SCOTTISH Labour leader Richard Leonard yesterday predicted that the future of Brexit could be decided by another general election rather than a second referendum.

Though he qualified his remarks by saying he was “almost certain” Brexit would happen, Leonard put forward the view that the Westminster Parliament might eventually reject the deal with the other 27 members of the EU – if such a deal can be reached – and in that case, a general election would be necessary to determine the future of Britain’s relationship with the EU.

At the weekend, Prime Minister Theresa May reaffirmed her Government’s commitment to giving MPs a “meaningful vote” on the terms of any deal with the EU, which would happen before the European Parliament votes on the deal, if it can be finalised by then, in October.

Speaking during a television interview, Leonard said: “My own view of it is that there will be a Brexit deal which will go to the Westminster Parliament, and they will decide whether or not that is a sufficient deal or not.

“I suspect it will not command support, looking at the way the negotiations are going at the moment.

“I suspect it will not command support which would in turn, I think, precipitate a general election, so rather than talking about second referendums I think it’s more likely we will be talking about a general election to determine the future direction of the UK’s membership of the EU.

“I expect Brexit will happen. There are circumstances conceivable where Brexit may not happen but I think they are extremely slim.

“I think they’re extremely unlikely and I think there will be withdrawal from the European Union but it’s imperative that we make sure that withdrawal is on terms that best protect the interests of working people in this country.”

In September, Leonard’s predecessor Kezia Dugdale had previously backed a second referendum over Brexit.

The position of Scottish Labour’s Brexit spokesman Neil Findlay is that the option of another referendum remains on the table.

In the same interview, Leonard said Labour would seek to maintain access to the single market and customs union and has pressed for a transitional phase that would allow an extra two years for membership of the single market and customs union to remain in place to effect a transition that protects jobs and the economy.

However, emphasising his view that Britain will leave the EU, Leonard stated: “I think therefore the challenge this year will be to secure the very best possible deal for working people as consumers to safeguard the environment and, first and foremost, to defend jobs and the economy, and especially the Scottish economy.”

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said: “There is now nothing left to distinguish the Tories and Labour on Brexit.

“They both want Scotland to be dragged out of the single market and customs union, taking a wrecking ball to Scottish business, to our public services, and the vital jobs that depend on these.

“And Labour are so blinded by Brexit that they’re now not even willing to get round the table to talk about how to unite against the Tories to stop the pending economic catastrophe.

“The SNP’s position meanwhile could not be clearer. We will continue to oppose Brexit in principle and practice and back Scotland’s continued place in the single market.”