POLITICS

Gordon Brown Accuses SNP Of 'Lying' About NHS In Scottish Independence Vote

16/09/2014 14:07 BST | Updated 16/09/2014 14:59 BST

The SNP are "perpetrating a lie" about protecting the NHS with Scottish independence because Holyrood already has the power it needs to do so, former prime minister Gordon Brown has said.

Mr Brown said the nationalists should make way for a Labour government in Scotland if they continue to insist they are "powerless" to protect the NHS without a Yes vote in the independence referendum.

He also said voting Yes would mean throwing Scotland into the "chaos of a separate state".

The SNP has argued that the health service north of the border is at risk due to health policies at Westminster, despite the area being devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

gordon brown

Gordon Brown accused the SNP of 'perpetrating a lie' about the NHS

Speaking at a campaign event in Clydebank, Mr Brown sought to attack the SNP's argument as he welcomed a vow by the three Westminster leaders to enhance Holyrood's powers in the event of a No vote.

David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg made the vow in a signed letter which appears on the front page of the Daily Record newspaper.

Alex Salmond has dismissed the Westminster pledge as a "last-minute desperate offer of nothing".

The First Minister insisted the promise of extensive new powers for the Scottish Parliament would not dent the Yes campaign and raised questions about how binding the pledge is.

Mr Brown said: "I think people are going to come to the conclusion that the change they really want is to have a Scottish Parliament as part of the UK, not the change that the SNP want, which is the chaos of a separate state."

He continued: "The NHS lie of the Scottish National Party has been exposed. The Scottish Parliament can keep the NHS in public hands with its existing powers.

"If the SNP continue to say they are powerless to protect the NHS in Scotland, let them make way for a Labour government in Scotland and we will protect the NHS."

Mr Brown said the Labour Party would never allow the health service to be privatised in Scotland.

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"It is the SNP who are perpetrating a lie about what the NHS can and cannot do in Scotland," he said.

"Over these next few hours, you must remind the people in Scotland the NHS has the powers and the Scottish Parliament has the powers to fund the health service, to protect the health service, to stop any privatisation, and to keep the health service in public hands."

Welcoming the pledge from the three Westminster leaders, he added: "The final decision about what we spend on the NHS is not going to be made by anyone outside Scotland, it is a matter for the Scottish people themselves, with the powers we already have, without having to go for a separate state."

Mr Salmond told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland: "This so-called vow that has been in the Daily Record, I suspect it's been called a vow because the last time one of these leaders made a pledge and signed the pledge was the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg when he signed a pledge that he wouldn't have tuition fees and then promptly put them up to £9,000 for English students in England.

"It's a classic example of how this last-minute desperate offer of nothing is not going to dissuade people in Scotland from the huge opportunity of taking Scotland's future into Scotland's hands this coming Thursday."