Home U.K. Scotland independence blow: How Ed Miliband considered ‘putting guards on border'

Scotland independence blow: How Ed Miliband considered ‘putting guards on border'

On Monday, Sir Keir Starmer appointed former Labour leader Ed Miliband to his new Shadow Cabinet. Mr Miliband, who led the party between 2010 and 2015, will now hold the role of Shadow Business Secretary. Sir Keir won the leadership contest on Saturday, after beating Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy.

He named Ms Nandy as his Shadow Foreign Secretary and appointed Ms Long-Bailey as Shadow Education Secretary.

The newly announced Cabinet is majority female, with seven BAME MPs included.

A quarter of appointees attended fee-paying schools, with just under a third Oxbridge graduates.

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The appointments of Mr Miliband and Lord Falconer to the Shadow Cabinet signal the ascent of the soft left in the party, at the expense of the Jeremy Corbyn-supporting hard left who have dominated since 2015.

Scotland independence blow: How Ed Miliband revealed he will put ‘guards on Scottish border’ (Image: GETTY)

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (Image: GETTY)

As many responded with surprise to Mr Miliband’s political comeback, unearthed reports shed light on his time as leader of the Labour Party.

Ahead of the referendum on Scottish independence in 2014, Mr Miliband issued a stark threat that manned border posts could have been introduced.

With just 11 days to go until the referendum, the former Labour leader urged voters to face up to the consequences of severing the 300-year-old Union.

He told the Scottish Mail on Sunday: “If you don’t want borders, vote to stay in the United Kingdom.”

Asked whether that would mean him introducing border guards and passport checks if he was Prime Minister, Mr Miliband warned: “It would have to be looked at.”

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Former Labour leader Ed Miliband (Image: GETTY)

Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond (Image: GETTY)

Mr Miliband’s spokesman added: “The last time I looked there were two sides to the border – and we would be in charge of one of them. It would be up to us, not Mr Salmond, to secure our northern border.”

Until then, Mr Salmond’s SNP had insisted that a separate Scotland would have been part of a common, free movement area with the rest of the UK and Ireland.

A Downing Street source also backed Mr Miliband, saying: “All the research shows that if there is a material difference between the immigration policy adopted by an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK, then border controls would have to be introduced.”

The SNP dismissed the idea of border controls as a “scare story”.

A Scottish government spokesman said: “An independent Scotland will continue to be a member of the current Common Travel Area with the rest of the UK, Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, so there will be no need for border checks between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“The Common Travel Area already allows for different and independent immigration policies within it.

“And this flexibility in the Common Travel Area will enable us to implement our own design for a controlled and more flexible immigration system.”

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Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (Image: GETTY)

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was determined to hold a second referendum on independence this year, despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson repeatedly rejecting her calls.

However, because of the coronavirus pandemic gripping the world, the Scottish government said it would “simply not be wise” to have a campaign at this time.

While Brexit might have made the case for Scottish independence stronger, though, it has also made it practically more difficult.

All new EU members are obliged to accept the Schengen open borders scheme, meaning travellers from the continent would be free to fly into Scotland without immigration checks.

But Britain is now out of the EU and already erects border controls to vet travellers from Schengen countries, raising the prospect of a new Hadrian’s Wall between the two nations in case of Scottish independence.

New border posts would cause chaos for travellers and prove to be hugely damaging to business.

The 95-mile border, which runs from Lamberton on the east coast to the Solway Firth in the west, cuts through 21 roads, including two major trunk routes, the A1 and M74.

The issue is similar to the problem of the Irish border that severely complicated Brexit talks.

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