Gove Rules Out Scottish Independence Referendum: U.K. Politics

Alex Morales

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is on a collision course with Scotland’s leader Nicola Sturgeon over the future of the U.K. Sturgeon says Scotland needs a new referendum on whether to split away from the rest of the U.K. but Johnson’s team ruled out another independence vote.

The premier is preparing to re-shape his cabinet after winning a big majority in last week’s election. His opponent Jeremy Corbyn accepted responsibility for the crushing defeat his Labour party suffered, as potential candidates jostle to succeed him.

Key developments:

Minister Michael Gove rules out another Scottish independence referendum (8:40 a.m.) but Sturgeon says London cannot imprison Scotland “against its will” (9:30 a.m.)Johnson prepares to name his cabinet MondayPremier will outline government program in Queen’s Speech on Thursday.Corbyn says he takes responsibility for Labour’s heavy defeatLabour MP Lisa Nandy says she’s considering a run for the leadership (10 a.m.)

Must read: Johnson’s Big Win Raises Tensions That Threaten to Unravel U.K.

Sunak Sees Brexit Debate Before Christmas (10:45 a.m.)

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak said the government plans to put its Brexit legislation before Parliament before Christmas to ensure everything is ready for the country’s planned EU departure at the end of January.

“One overriding mandate we have from this election is to get Brexit done,” Sunak told the BBC. “Our intention is to bring the withdrawal bill, the legislation, back to parliament before Christmas.”

He said a budget can be expected “reasonably soon” after Brexit. He suggested Johnson is considering plans to reorganize government departments and the civil service to deliver priorities such as immigration reform and recruiting police. “How we do that, how the prime minister organizes government to deliver those things, is something of course he’s thinking about that,” Sunak said.

Labour Leadership Race Heats Up (10 a.m.)

The contest to succeed Corbyn is heating up with several names entering the fray. Backbencher Lisa Nandy told the BBC on Sunday that she’s “seriously” thinking about running after Labour’s “shattering” defeat in the Dec. 12 election, while the party’s justice spokesman, Richard Burgon, endorsed its business spokeswoman, Rebecca Long-Bailey, and told Sky News he’s debating running to be deputy leader.

Also speaking to the BBC, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said the process of choosing a new leader is likely to last 8 to 10 weeks and will “obviously be sorted before” London and local elections in the spring. He said neither he nor Corbyn would remain in the shadow cabinet, and suggested Long-Bailey, Burgon, education spokeswoman Angela Rayner and women and equalities spokeswoman Dawn Butler as potential candidates to lead the party.

“We’ll have a new generation of leaders coming in who are incredibly talented, incredibly enthusiastic and now experienced as well,” McDonnell said. “My view is I think it should be a woman leader next.”

Sturgeon Says Scots Vote Must be Legal (9:30 a.m.)

Scottish National Party Leader Nicola Sturgeon suggested she wouldn’t hold a rebel referendum on independence without the consent of the London government because it would not be legally valid. A vote needs to be sanctioned by the U.K.’s central government in Westminster.

“A referendum has to be legal because it has to be accepted and legitimate if we are to win independence,” Sturgeon said in a BBC TV interview.

At the same time, Sturgeon said Johnson’s rejection of a second Scottish referendum “won’t hold” because the SNP “overwhelmingly won the election” in Scotland, while Johnson’s Conservatives “got roundly defeated.” Scotland can’t be “imprisoned” in the U.K., she said.

“You cannot hold Scotland in the union against its will,” Sturgeon said. “You cannot just lock us in a cupboard and turn the key and hope that everything goes away. If the United Kingdom is to continue, then it can only be by consent.”

Lib Dems Probe Election Failure (8:58 a.m.)

The Liberal Democrats are investigating why they failed to cut through in Thursday’s general election.The party went into the election with its leader, Jo Swinson vowing to cancel Brexit and saying she could be prime minister. But the party ended up winning one fewer seat than in 2017 – with Swinson losing her own place in parliament.

“Clearly we must have made mistakes or we wouldn’t have had the results that we did,” acting Leader Ed Davey said on Sunday in a Sky News interview. “I think we didn’t get the other messages over about what the Liberal Democrats stand for. We didn’t get beyond the Stop Brexit message.”

Gove Rules Out Scottish Referendum (8:40 a.m.)

Cabinet minister Michael Gove ruled out a second referendum on Scottish independence, giving an emphatic “no” when asked about the prospect in a Sky News interview. “We were told in 2014 that that would be a choice for a generation,” Gove said. “We are not going to have an independence referendum in Scotland.”

Gove’s comments set up a battle with the Scottish National Party after its leader Nicola Sturgeon said her party’s election dominance north of the border – it won 48 of 59 parliamentary seats – meant she had the mandate to demand a fresh vote.

Gove also said the government will legislate to guarantee extra spending for the National Health Service, and that he’s “confident” the U.K. can conclude a trade deal with the European Union on time next year. He promised to put Johnson’s Brexit divorce deal to a vote in Parliament “in short order,” while refusing to be drawn on whether that will be before Christmas.

Johnson May Fire Third of Government (Earlier)

The premier plans to fire ministers and scrap government departments in a reshuffle of his administration planned for February, The Sunday Times reported, citing a senior person in government.

As many as a third of cabinet ministers could be dismissed in the planned reshaping of government in February as the prime minister brings in new people to try build a “transformative” team, the newspaper said. Among planned changes include scrapping the Brexit department, setting up a department for borders and immigration, and rolling the Department for International Trade into the Business Department, the paper said.

Corbyn Accepts Responsibility for Defeat (Earlier)

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn accepted responsibility for his party’s biggest electoral defeat since 1935, but also defended the policy platform he stood for.

Writing in the Sunday Mirror, he described the result as a “body blow for everyone who so desperately needs real change in our country,” while he went further in the Observer, saying: “We have suffered a heavy defeat and I take my responsibility for it.”

“There is no quick fix to overcome the distrust of many voters,” Corbyn wrote. “Patronising them will not win them over. Labour has to earn their trust.”

But Corbyn also stuck to the lines he and his top team have taken since the scale of the defeat became apparent: people voted on the issue of Brexit rather than on other policies, and Labour had been subject to “media attacks” that were “more ferocious than ever.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Sara Marley

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