THERE is no need for another independence referendum in Scotland, UK Labour leader Keir Starmer has said.

Speaking on LBC radio to host Nick Ferrari, the former shadow Brexit secretary said his party would be making the case for the Union between now and the Holyrood elections next year.

Starmer was played a short clip of the Welsh Labour First Minister Mark Drakeford, who said: “I am very clear that if a population in Scotland or indeed in Wales wanted to hold a referendum it is for the people of Wales and the people of Scotland to make that decision.

“And then that decision must be respected.”

After Drakeford's comments, Starmer was asked if the Union was safe in Labour’s hands. The party leader responded: “Yes, I strongly support the United Kingdom.

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“I think it’s in all of our interests to hold together as the United Kingdom and I think dealing with the pandemic has shown that.”

Yesterday, Linda Bauld, a professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said the UK was “well off” any semblance of a joint strategy when it came to fighting the coronavirus.

Bauld’s is a position Starmer himself appeared to share earlier in the LBC interview, when he said: “England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are heading off in all sorts of different directions on this [Brexit] and on Covid.”

“What the Prime Minister is failing to do is hold the Union together,” he added.

Commenting on what Drakeford had said, the Labour leader argued that the Welsh premier had not been advocating Welsh or Scottish independence but “making a point about who decides in certain circumstances”.

“No-one in the Labour party wants the United Kingdom broken up,” he added.

Asked if he would stand in the way of indyref2, Starmer said: “We will go into the elections in Scotland making the argument for the Union and making the argument that we don’t need a referendum.

“Obviously that election is in May of next year and we’ll make the best case we can between now and then.”

The latest Holyrood polls have suggested Scottish Labour will run a very even race with the Scottish Tories for second place.

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Those two Unionist parties have been estimated to take around 20 seats each, while the SNP was projected to win 70.

Commenting, the SNP's depute leader Keith Brown said Starmer's position was "completely unsustainable".

He said: “The most recent polls show support for Scottish independence consistently sitting at over 50% - the momentum is very much with the Yes campaign.

"Labour's opposition to a referendum is completely unsustainable - particularly when many of its own members recognise that to stand in the way of one would be undemocratic.

“But ultimately it’s not up to Keir Starmer or any other politician to determine if there is a referendum on independence – that should be a matter for the people of Scotland themselves.

“The more the Tories and Labour try to ignore Scotland’s democratic mandate to choose our own future, the more support for a fresh referendum – and for independence itself – will continue to grow.”