Any deal between the Scottish Government and the Greens does not change things one bit regarding the prospect of a second independence referendum, Sir Keir Starmer has said.
The UK Labour leader used a visit to Scotland to urge politicians north of the border to focus on the “really pressing priorities” of coronavirus and climate change – not the constitution.
His trip comes as talks between Nicola Sturgeon’s minority SNP Scottish Government and the Scottish Greens over a possible co-operation agreement are said to be progressing well.
Any deal between the two parties would cement the pro-independence majority that exists within the Scottish Parliament – but Sir Keir insisted this would not give Ms Sturgeon a mandate to hold another vote on the future of the UK.
Sources earlier this week claimed an agreement between the two parties could be announced within days, however the Labour leader said this “doesn’t change my thinking one bit on what the priorities are at the moment”.
He said: “We’re still dealing with the pandemic, we’re talking about vaccination, and hopefully we will succeed in getting the virus under control, then we have got the recovery to deal with, that is the number one priority, coupled with climate change. We’ve got Cop26 here in Glasgow in November.”
He said these key issues should be the priority for politicians at the moment – recalling that in the Holyrood election earlier this year all parties had agreed the coronavirus recovery should be the focus.
The First Minister should “stick to it, and get on with and deliver it”, he declared.
His comments came as he demanded more action from governments on both sides of the border on the issue of climate change.
The UK will host the global Cop26 climate change summit in Glasgow this November, but Sir Keir said ministers at both Westminster and Holyrood need to step up.
The Labour leader was speaking as he visited Whitelee wind farm – the UK’s largest onshore wind farm – outside of Glasgow.
Sir Keir hailed the site, where 215 turbines can generate up to 539 megawatts of electricity, as an example of “what investment in the next generation of energy can bring”.
He said he was visiting the facility to “urge the Scottish Government and the UK Government to take their heads of out the sand and make the necessary investment and commitment in next generation energy”.
He added: “We’ve got a UK Prime Minister who bundles around with a cabaret of soundbites, with targets about climate change but doesn’t put in place the action.
“We all know that hydrogen and wind are part of the future, we haven’t got an industrial strategy, we haven’t got a hydrogen strategy.
“Get your head out of the sand, stop the soundbites, let’s have some action.”
His comments came as the Prime Minister visited the Moray East offshore wind farm in the Moray Firth with business minister Kwasi Kwarteng.
Meanwhile, Sir Keir claimed the SNP had only delivered one in 20 of the jobs that were hoped for in the offshore renewables sector – claiming this was a “massive missed opportunity”.
He said: “We’re facing a future which is obviously about wind, and solar and hydrogen, you need a strategy and you need targets to be matched.
“One in 20 jobs being created in the offshore wind sector, when we know that that is central to Scotland, that is unforgiveable.”