Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson warns Labour over independent Scotland

Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson is warning Labour colleagues that Scottish independence could hurt the North East economy

Sedgfield MP Phil Wilson
Sedgfield MP Phil Wilson

Labour divisions over Scotland will be revealed when one MP warns that promises of further devolution to convince Scots to reject independence could hurt the North East economy.

Labour MP Phil Wilson is warning colleagues in his own party not to promise Scotland control over income tax or air passenger duty.

He will urge Scots to stay in the United Kingdom when he leads a Commons debate today on the future of Scotland and the North East after September’s independence referendum.

But he will also set out his concerns about what could happen if Scotland votes ‘no’ to independence.

The Scottish Labour Party has set up a commission on devolution, chaired by Glasgow Central MP Anas Sarwar, which is due to report its findings on March 21.

This is expected to recommend that Labour promises to give Scotland control over taxation north of the border, as well as control of housing benefit and employment law.

But the proposals have sparked opposition from some Labour MPs in the North East, who are concerned about the impact on the region. They are also opposed by some Labour MPs in Scotland, according to reports.

Speaking to The Journal ahead of the debate, Mr Wilson, MP for Sedgefield, said cutting air passenger duty rates in Scotland would hit Durham Tees Valley Airport and Newcastle Airport, making it almost impossible for them to compete.

He said: “Do we really need to be getting into a race to the bottom on regulation?

“I would say to my colleagues north of the border that we are a national party, not a nationalist party.

“The Labour Party has to look at the consequences of further devolution.”

Scotland already benefited from having its own economic development agency, Scottish Enterprise, while the North East equivalent, One North East, had been abolished by the present Government, he said.

Mr Wilson also urged Scots to vote against independence, saying: “The world is getting smaller so how can it make sense to put up borders between Scotland and England?”

The MP said his brother lived two miles north of the border and travelled regularly to the North East, but could be require to carry a passport if Scotland was independent.

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