Tory MP claims Brexit 'irrelevant' in making case for second Scottish independence referendum

John Redwood speaks in the House of Commons.

John Redwood speaks in the House of Commons. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

A Tory MP has caused controversy after he claimed Brexit had no relevance to the case for a second Scottish independence referendum.

Former Welsh secretary and Vote Leave supporter John Redwood said the nation's decision to vote in favour of staying in the EU was "irrelevant" as he shot down suggestions that Brexit was a cause for a new referendum on Scottish independence.

The Tory MP for Wokingham also said Johnson was "stating the facts" when he said devolution had been a "disaster" for Scotland and the Union.

Referring to the 1997 devolution vote, Redwood told listeners on Radio 5 that the "Conservative Party, in government, has fully accepted the result of that long-ago referendum, and we have been keen advocates of devolution ever since that was the clearly expressed view of the Scottish people and we’ve recently been expanding the powers of the devolved Scottish parliament as we get powers back from Brussels."

He added: “But the prime minister was quite right that Labour sold devolution as a way of getting rid of the nationalist threat as he saw it then and the opposite happened, it destroyed Labour as the governing party of Scotland and it gave the SNP a great platform. The prime minister was just stating the facts.”


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A Radio 5 presenter hit back: "It’s called self-determination, John Redwood."

"I’m in favour of self-determination," the MP insisted. "And that’s why we then granted the people of Scotland a referendum to see whether they really did want independence. We had a good long debate and they decided by quite a decent margin that they wished to stay part of the United Kingdom, that is the democratic way to proceed."

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Redwood said the independence referendum had been a "once-in-a-generation" vote before disagreeing with a presenter who insisted that Brexit had changed that.

"No I don’t agree at all," he groaned, "other than giving more powers to the devolved parliaments and assemblies of the United Kingdom, because we are taking back control as a united kingdom.

“The truth is the SNP are very cross because they’ve lost two referendums. They claim to like referendums but they lost the one on Scottish independence and then they lost the one on staying in the European Union.”

The presenter cut in: "They lost the one? They voted in Scotland...in Scotland they voted to stay -"

Redwood interrupted: "But that’s irrelevant to this purpose because it has to be a decision of the whole United Kingdom if Scotland had wanted to make their own arrangements in Europe they would have voted to have left the United Kingdom on that referendum."

In the 2016 Brexit referendum, 62% of Scotland voted in favour of remaining in the EU. In a poll carried out by Business for Scotland in the summer found that 63% of Scots support returning to the EU if they were offered the option in a referendum.

Redwood's comment come after successive polls have shown steady support for independence by a majority of Scots. 

This is not the first time the backbencher has caused controversy over Brexit.

Last week, he penned what pro-Brexit newspapers have described as a 'warning letter' to president-elect Joe Biden over Brexit.

Biden, who has Irish roots, has been rumoured to be opposed to Brexit and has tweeted his support for the Good Friday deal which is under threat from the government's internal market bill.

In the letter, Redwood wrote: "The UK’s EU referendum gave us a larger percentage mandate for exit than your own convincing win, so you will understand the importance to us of becoming a truly independent country again on 1 January next year."

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