Kezia Dugdale
Image caption Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale is launching her plan for a “bold, ambitious and radical plan for a better Scotland”

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has given a “cast-iron guarantee” that her party will oppose a second independence referendum.

Ms Dugdale was speaking in Edinburgh as she unveiled her party’s manifesto for next month’s general election.

She accused the SNP government at Holyrood of prioritising independence over education and the NHS.

Ms Dugdale said Scotland was already divided enough – and did not need or want another “divisive” referendum,

Holding aloft her party manifesto, she told the gathering: “In these 120 pages you will find our cast iron guarantee that we will oppose a second independence referendum.

“The Labour Party, built on solidarity and co-operation, could never support taking our country down a divisive path like that again – our country is divided enough.”

Breakfast clubs

The manifesto states that Scotland would face a £15bn deficit if the UK were to be “torn apart”, which it says would hurt the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

It goes on to say: “The SNP needs to respect the verdict of the majority of Scots in 2014 and abandon its divisive plan to re-run the referendum.

“It needs to get on with the day job and reverse the cuts being inflicted on Scotland’s public services. Scottish Labour will never support independence, because we believe that together we’re stronger.”

The manifesto also features a series of pledges aimed at delivering “transformative change” in Scotland.

These include;

  • commitments to bring forward Member’s Bills on banning MSPs from holding paid second jobs
  • extending breakfast clubs into every primary school
  • banning onshore fracking
  • improving access to sanitary products to tackle “period poverty”
  • and scrapping the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act.
Image copyright PA
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn launched Labour’s UK manifesto last week

Ms Dugdale said: “This is a manifesto in the finest traditions of the Labour movement, and it starts with some very simple principles.

“Power and wealth in our country are concentrated in too few hands, and for Scotland to succeed each and every one of us has to do well.

“And whatever the challenges that are thrown at us we are better tackling them together because together we are stronger.”

She said that her party offered voters a “clear choice” and the opportunity to “reject the divisive policies of the SNP and the Tories”, who she said were still acting like the “nasty party” under Theresa May.

Ms Dugdale told voters: “You can reject a second independence referendum and hard Brexit and you can vote for a positive and hopeful plan for Scotland and the United Kingdom.”

Two-horse race

Scottish Labour’s focus on its opposition to independence comes as both the SNP and the Scottish Conservatives have sought to define the election as a two-horse race between their parties.

The Tories, who squeezed Ms Dugdale’s party into third place in the most recent Holyrood and council elections, have repeatedly led their campaigning on a hardline message of opposing another referendum.

Labour’s UK manifesto also confirmed it opposed an independence referendum despite leader Jeremy Corbyn previously saying it would be wrong for Westminster to block a vote if the Scottish Parliament called for one.

Writing in the manifesto foreword, Mr Corbyn said independence would inflict “turbo-charged austerity on the Scottish people”, and said that nationalism does not offer hope or solutions to society’s problems.

The Scottish Conservatives launched their manifesto last week, with the SNP due to do the same on Tuesday.

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