IAN Blackford has said Sir Keir Starmer is aligning his Labour Party with the Tories after admitting that the “status quo” in Scotland could not continue.

Blackford was speaking to The National after the Labour leader refused to discuss devo-max with a Scottish Sunday newspaper, saying that would have to wait until Gordon Brown finished his work on the Commission on the Future of the UK.

Starmer said: “The general principle works, we can’t defend the status quo. I believe in the union and I think we need to make a stronger case for the union and I think we have been making a stronger case for the union.”

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“I think both Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson have got their focus in the wrong place. Nicola Sturgeon is focused most of the time on the constitutional question, and not on the issues that matter so much to people in Scotland. So the focus is in the wrong place, and for the Prime Minister the problem is he’s focused on his own party, which he’s trying to hold together.”

The SNP’s Westminster leader retorted: “We had an election to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Parliament has a mandate for a referendum.

“Sovereignty belongs to the people of Scotland and this simply won’t do.

“What he's really doing is putting himself onside with Boris Johnson, not the Scottish people, who have got the right to determine their own future.

“The point is, we were already tricked by The Vow in 2014. We're certainly not going to be tricked a second time, and if we want to make sure that we can deliver that prosperous, that greener, that fairer Scotland, then the way to do that is to seize the opportunity of independence.”

Blackford said the simple fact was that Scotland had been “dragged” out of Europe against the will of its people and the nation is now witnessing the impact of a right-wing Tory government that has damaged Scotland over the past couple of years.

“We have to take the responsibility of determining our own future – an independent Scotland back into Europe, where we can make sure that we take our responsibilities for climate change, where we can make sure that we can make our way out of this cost of living crisis that has come under Westminster,” he said.

“And the time will be right once we have dealt with the Covid pandemic for the people of Scotland to have their say in that future.”

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Blackford said the right of Scotland’s people to have their say in the country’s future was given to the Scottish Parliament in last May’s election, and neither Boris Johnson, Starmer, nor anyone else, could stand in the way of that.

Starmer, he said, should also learn from the lessons of the past, most notably from their part in the 2014 campaign.

“Labour in Scotland paid the price for joining together with the Tories and in Better Together,” said Blackford.

“Once again, it seems that Kier Starmer is aligning himself with Boris Johnson, and the question for him is, is he going to deny democracy, or is he going to accept the right of the people of Scotland to choose their own future?

“Labour are out of step with those that used to vote for them that now recognise that Scotland has to move forward.”

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He said Labour had to catch up and recognise the aspirations of the Scottish people over their country's independence, its links with Europe and the nation’s clean, green future. He added: “Perhaps it is little wonder that Labour in Westminster has only one MP, and what he [Starmer] needs to do is reflect on why Labour in Scotland have misjudged the mood of the people.”

Blackford also poured scorn on reports that Labour could field independence-supporting candidates in Scotland.

He said: “It's a smokescreen because, whilst he may have this olive branch of individual candidates being allowed to support independence, the Labour Party remains a Unionist party that’s seeking to put up roadblocks to people in Scotland determining their own future.”