THE head of one of Britain’s biggest trade unions has said that she’s open to the prospect of a second referendum on Scottish independence.

In an exclusive interview ahead of this week’s Labour Party conference in Liverpool, Sharon Graham, General Secretary of Unite, also indicated her union could eventually back a Yes vote were a second referendum to take place.

Ms Graham’s position is at odds with those of Sir Keir Starmer, leader of UK Labour and the party’s Scottish chief, Anas Sarwar both of whom have consistently expressed their opposition to a second referendum on Scottish independence.

Speaking at Unite’s London offices, Ms Graham said: “It’s important to me that our Scottish members decide what The Union’s position should be on independence. We have a Scottish executive and our members in Scotland decide our direction. Whatever decision they make I will ensure we, as a national Union, are bound by that decision. It would be patronising to say anything else.

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“Of course people in England have a view on Scotland’s constitutional future, but for me the fundamental principle is that the people in Scotland will decide this. And that’s why our Scottish members will determine what our official position is.”

However, she added that in a recent visit to Scotland the subject hadn’t come up in a series of meetings she’d held with 200 of Unite’s Scottish reps. Ms Graham said that this was mainly because they were currently more concerned about workplace rights and issues around in-work poverty. “But the issue of Scottish independence will arise again,” she said.

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In an article for The Herald last month, Ms Graham had pledged her support for full employment rights to be devolved to Scotland, a move which has since also been adopted by the TUC.

The Unite chief also re-iterated her full backing for the Rosebank oil and gas field. She was highly critical of those arguing for a Just Transition to green energy in the North Sea who have failed to acknowledge the needs of workers and their families in the sector.

“In Scotland you can’t let go of one rope until you’ve got hold of another. Not to continue with oil and gas production when we don’t have a replacement is irresponsible.

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“I’ve asked about these 480,000 Green jobs that are being predicted, but what exactly are they? If it’s driving an electric bike for Deliveroo then that’s not the sort of secure, well-paying jobs I’m talking about.

“Just Transition has become something that trips off people’s tongues. We need a negotiated transition, where workers are at the heart of it. I meet oil and gas workers all the time. They’re all pro Net Zero, but you can’t achieve this properly unless you bring the workers with you.

“We are 100% in favour of the Rosebank oil and gas field. We can’t make these people the coalminers of their generation. It’s easy to take a leap of faith if you’ve got half a million or a nice cushy job at Holyrood or Westminster. But they’re asking working-class people to cross their fingers and hope for the best. That’s not acceptable.”