A FORMER Labour cabinet minister has called on Keir Starmer to develop policies that prevent the party from driving Scotland towards independence.

Writing in The Observer, Lord Hain, who served as a Cabinet minister under both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, said that Labour’s reluctance to admit the failings of Brexit had increased support for Scottish independence.

He said that Brexit has become a “taboo subject” in the party due to the Conservatives' refusal to admit the damage it has caused to the British economy and Labour’s fear of rekindling the argument.

He said: “Brexit, supposed to control immigration, has in fact delivered both chronic labour shortages and a dramatic jump in net migration in the year to June 2022, to a record 504,000 – deeply ironic given the racist undertone to much of the Brexit campaign.

“As these Brexit failings become more evident, support for Scottish independence appears to be edging up. Unless Labour does something about it, we could get independence driven at least in part by Brexit, which Nicola Sturgeon continually stresses in making her case.”

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Hain was backed by several other Labour peers in the House of Lords and added that closer cooperation with the EU was only way to solve the crises facing the country, including climate change, rising energy bills and the war in Ukraine.

He called on Starmer to champion policies that would help companies in the UK restore exports to the trading bloc, remove the 90-day travel limit on UK citizens visiting the EU, and solve the issues caused by the Northern Ireland protocol.

“It’s high time we all confronted the Brexit fantasy of a ‘sovereign global Britain’,” he said. “The writing is on the wall. Our destiny lies, if not within then certainly with Europe – and Labour needs practical policies to deliver that.”

Former home secretary David Blunkett also supported Hain’s intervention, adding that increasing trade with the EU could help with stemming the wave of industrial action witnessed across the country.

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He said: “Peter Hain is quite right to highlight the tremendous economic hit that can be identified as a direct result of Brexit.

“A 15% drop in trade identified by the Office for Budget Responsibility illustrates, graphically, the loss of resource that could be available to meet the challenge of drastic falls in income and therefore the ability of public employers to offer more generous wage increases and reduce the pressure cooker of industrial action.”

Despite calls from within his party to consider a closer relationship with the EU, Keir Starmer has previously said that he would not back returning to the single market or bringing back freedom of movement if he became prime minister.