LABOUR’S shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, is to be commended for making clear that a Labour minority administration would not do a deal or form a coalition with any other party, which includes the SNP.

SNP MPs, he believes, can vote with Labour or bring down a Labour government and risk putting the Tories back in power.

This throws down a gauntlet to Nicola Sturgeon. She needs Labour to grant a Section 30 order enabling the SNP to hold a second independence referendum whenever they wish, in exchange for the nationalists propping up a minority Labour administration.

READ MORE: Odds 'now clearly in favour' of Scottish independence, says bookmaker 

But it is now clear that Jeremy Corbyn et al are the savvier party.

Though independence is of course her raison d’être, the nationalist leader has spent years demonising the Tories.

So what is she to do if she can’t extract a Section 30 order from Labour? Bring them down and create another general election? Then risk a majority Labour administration being returned that has zero use for her?

Or initiate the return of the Tories, who ceaselessly make clear that there will be no second independence referendum any time soon?

No. SNP MPs would have little choice but to support a Labour minority administration in the Commons - without the nationalists furthering their UK break-up ambition one iota.

Martin Redfern,


NICOLA Sturgeon wants us to think that another independence referendum is inevitable, given the continued discord over Brexit. She assumes that if another referendum is held the people will come round to her way of thinking and vote to leave the UK.

Yet if our First Minister is so unhappy about how the UK government has conducted itself in relation to the EU referendum and subsequent Brexit machinations, does she not owe Scotland a clear explanation of how she would propose to deal with independence-referendum outcomes that do not quite fit her ideal?

If the turmoil that has surrounded Brexit has taught us anything, it is that a close referendum result can generate untold discord if a substantial minority refuse to accept the outcome. So, if Nicola Sturgeon gets her way and holds a properly agreed independence referendum, how would she propose to deal with a result that was finely balanced?

If one side secured just a fraction of one per cent over 50 per cent, it would in statistical terms be what might be considered a score draw.

If that tiny margin favoured independence, would Ms Sturgeon propose to proceed with negotiating our departure from the UK?

Or, alternatively, if that smallest of majorities favoured her opponents, would she wait for the dust to settle and then commence agitation for a third referendum on the subject of Scottish independence?

These are not academic questions, as such an outcome in either direction is perfectly possible, given the opinion polls of the last many months, and it is critical that Scotland understands how the SNP would proceed in these circumstances. Referendums have the scope for delivering up all manner of unintended consequences.

Does our First Minister care about that, or are we all to simply take the risk with her, as she rolls the dice once more, risking the chaos of a country split down the middle?

Keith Howell, West Linton

IN the last few days the SNP has made a huge deal about trust being lacking in Boris Johnson. Now the boot is on the other foot (‘“There’s no trust left” as hospital infection row grows’, The Herald, September 9.)

This is in addition to the absolute scandals over drug deaths, lack of GP appointments, and the debacle over Edinburgh’s brand-new Children’s hospital, where there is no opening date. The SNP wanted Boris Johnson to go, and were ratcheting up the pressure. Where does this leave Jeane Freeman, the SNP Health Secretary?

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

ALAN M Morris (Letters, September 9) believes that many voted No in the referendum because “Remaining an EU member was very important to the people of Scotland in 2014”. However, Remaining was not a credible option.

A Yes vote would have ensured that an independence Scotland as a new sovereign state would be out of the EU , like it or lump it, and would have to apply on that basis for membership.

So if there had been a Yes vote in 2014, Scotland would have found itself out of both the EU and the UK with the colossal economic damage that would have entailed.

How many years would it then have taken Scotland to meet the fiscal requirements for joining the EU is anyone’s guess, but from the 2018 Growth Commission Report it would be many years of austerity and (unlikely spectacular) growth before there would be any hope of that.

Meanwhile, Scotland would be involved in Scexit negotiations with the rest of the UK, which the ongoing three years of Brexit negotiations so far give an idea of what to expect.

Emotionally, many Scots may wish for separation from the rest of the UK , but economically it would have been madness in 2014, and it still is.

Alan Fitzpatrick,