LABOUR were in chaos – again – last night after Jeremy Corbyn undermined Kezia Dugdale and his party’s Scottish manifesto when he suggested Nicola Sturgeon could have a second independence referendum after Brexit negotiations had concluded.

Corbyn who was campaigning in Scotland, told an interviewer he would “obviously open discussions” with Sturgeon on a vote about the constitution. Scottish Labour’s manifesto, launched last week, committed the party against what it calls an “unwanted and unnecessary”


In the foreword to that document, Corbyn wrote: “We will stand firm in our opposition to a second referendum because we know that together we’re stronger and unity is still our strength.”

Yet yesterday, he seemed to suggest Labour had changed their mind.

In an interview with Bauer and Global radio stations, Corbyn was asked specifically what he would do if he was prime minister and Sturgeon asked him about an independence referendum.

Corbyn said: “I’ll obviously open discussions with the Government in Scotland and listen very carefully to what the Scottish Parliament says.

“I would ask them to think very carefully about it and suggest it would be much better to have this question dealt with at the conclusion of what are very serious and very important Brexit negotiations, where I am utterly determined to achieve tariff-free trade access to the European markets to protect manufacturing and service jobs all across the UK, all across Scotland, Wales and England as well of course.”

The Tories immediately leapt on the comment, alleging that the SNP and Labour were secretly “working behind the scenes for a post-election deal”.

Scottish Labour’s press office then sent out a statement, explaining exactly what their boss had meant, regardless of what he had said.

“Jeremy Corbyn and Scottish Labour have repeatedly said that a second independence referendum is both unwanted and unnecessary. Labour firmly oppose a second independence referendum,” a spokesman said.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said it looked like a “sweetheart deal” between the SNP and Labour was in the offing. “This might suit the two of them but it would be a disaster for Scotland – dragging us back to more division just at the moment when we need to move on, together,” she said.

Earlier in the day Corbyn had emphatically ruled out any sort of coalition or progressive alliance with the SNP, saying there would be “no deals”.

“There will be no alliance. We’re fighting this election to win,” he said. “Only Labour or the Tories can win this election and voting Labour is the only way to remove Theresa May from office and build a Scotland for the many not the few.”

Over the weekend, the First Minister said her MPs would “look to be part of a progressive alliance” if the election was close and neither the Tories nor Labour could form a government. Speaking to Andrew Neil on the BBC, the SNP leader said: “If there was to be a hung parliament, of course we would look to be part of a progressive alliance that pursued progressive policies.”

When asked if she would prefer May or Corbyn in Downing Street, Sturgeon said: “I don’t want a Tory prime minister. I don’t want to see a Tory government.”

Pushed further on that during an interview with Sky News yesterday , Sturgeon said if such an arrangement, she’d “want to get as much of SNP manifesto implemented as possible”.

However, Sturgeon said that despite the narrowing of the polls, the “reality of this election” is that Britain will wake up to a Tory government on June 9, and called on Scots to back her party.