LABOUR have been accused of pre-emptively trying to “scupper a Yes vote” in indyref2 by “wrecking” the Government’s Referendums Bill.

MSP James Kelly has put forward a Stage 2 amendment which, if approved, would mean that a referendum would only be valid if “a minimum of 50% of the total number of persons entitled to vote in the referendum” do so.

The SNP said that this could lead to a situation where No voters could be encouraged to stay at home on polling day if it appeared that a victory for Yes was likely.

The amendment is due to be considered tomorrow by Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee.

The SNP MSP Angela Constance compared it to the notorious 40% rule that led to the Yes vote for Scottish devolution being rejected in 1979.

READ MORE: General Election: Jeremy Corbyn continues to confuse on indyref2

She accused Labour of “putting forward wrecking amendments to the Referendums Bill to scupper a Yes vote and once again stand in the way of Scottish democracy”.

Constance (below) added: “It is inconceivable that a new referendum on whether Scotland should be an independent country would not be much higher than 50%. In 2014 it was 85%.

“This amendment may on first reading seem reasonable, but it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s not just that it is unnecessary – its only purpose is to encourage a boycott of the poll if it look like Yes is going to win.

“Not since the devolution referendum of 1979 – where Labour MPs put forward the notorious ‘40% rule’ which meant that the Yes vote was scuppered – have Labour been so guilty of such a brazenly anti-democratic act, in a last ditch effort to maintain Westminster control over Scotland.

The National:

“People in Scotland have the right to determine their future. This anti-democratic wrecking amendment must be withdrawn.”

In the run up to the 1979 vote Labour MP George Cunningham, a vocal opponent of devolution, amended the Scotland Act so that any referendum required the approval of 40% of the total electorate.

While 1,230,937 Scots voted in favour of a Scottish Assembly, around 52%, it only represented around 33% of the registered electorate as a whole.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government look set to allow the Electoral Commission input into the question for indyref2.

Ministers had clashed with the elections watchdog over what voters should be asked in any future independence referendum.

The Scottish Government have said the Yes/No question of 2014 works and should remain, but the commission have said they should be allowed to test any question first.

In 2016, they rejected a Yes/No question for the EU referendum, instead giving voters an option to Leave or Remain.

Constitutional Affairs Secretary Michael Russell met with the commission last week, and has now proposed limiting the use of any question to the lifetime of the parliament which approved it – meaning no more than five years in practice.

This could be extended to two parliamentary terms for a previously approved question if MSPs approve.

That could mean 2014’s Yes/No question being used next year.

In a letter to the Finance and Constitution Committee, Russell said the position was “firmly based on principles and can command the widest support”.