Jess Phillips receives SNP backlash after comments about Scottish nationalism

PUBLISHED: 17:13 13 January 2020 | UPDATED: 17:13 13 January 2020

Jess Phillips has received sharp comments from the SNP after calling for Labour to be a firmly unionist party. Picture: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Jess Phillips has received sharp comments from the SNP after calling for Labour to be a firmly unionist party. Picture: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media

Jess Phillips is set to make her case for Labour to be “100% committed” to the union between England and Scotland in an upcoming visit to Glasgow.

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The Labour MP - whose place in the ongoing party leadership contest was secured on Monday - is expected to argue against Scottish nationalism after having earlier accused the Scottish National Party (SNP) of being a "threat to opportunity and equality" for working people in Scotland.

But the Birmingham Yardley MP is receiving backlash before she even reaches Scotland. The SNP have called her statements "arrogant" and suggested that her position "would deny the people of Scotland their right to basic democracy".

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The exchange of comments comes after Richard Leonard, leader of the Scottish Labour Party, attempted to engage with members on the party's position on independence.

But the party's Scottish Executive turned down the proposal of a conference on federalism, which would have backed a multi-option referendum on independence.

Phillips said: "The idea that the answer to the UK leaving a union with our most important trading partner is for Scotland to leave a union with her most important trading partner only makes sense if you're a nationalist.

"Nicola Sturgeon wants to talk to me about threats to Scotland - the SNP's abject failings on education and health show that it is her administration that remains a threat to opportunity and equality for working people in Scotland."

She also said that Labour should be making the case for solidarity and "internationalism".

"Labour believes in the union because we believe in redistribution, because we want to bring people together, not divide them, and because our compassion doesn't end at an imaginary line on a map.

"Let nationalists make the case for nationalism, we should make the argument for solidarity and internationalism."

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An SNP spokesperson called Phillips' comments "ill-informed".

"People in Scotland simply don't trust the Labour Party - and increasingly arrogant interventions by leadership candidates are doing nothing to change that," she said.

"It's disappointing that Jess Phillips would deny the people of Scotland their right to basic democracy - and would rather we remain shackled to a chaotic, dysfunctional and increasingly right-wing Tory government.

"With contributions as ill-informed as this, it's no surprise that Jess Phillips is expected to have little impact in the Labour leadership election."

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