FORMER First Minister Henry McLeish has called on the Scottish Parliament to “derail” and “defeat” Brexit when the UK Government’s EU repeal bill comes to Holyrood.

Speaking exclusively to The National, the ex-Labour leader also accused Theresa May of “turning her back on four-nation politics” and said the country’s 13 Tory MPs needed to choose a side: Scotland or Brexit.

McLeish’s comments put him at odds with the current Labour leadership.

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Though Jeremy Corbyn has been arguing for a slightly softer Brexit than some of the Tories, he has consistently promised to “respect the referendum result and the decision to leave the European Union”.

McLeish, however, says Brexit is “an act of intense self-harm” and should be stopped.

He said: “I would encourage the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government and the First Minister to ruthlessly pursue – initially – the derailing of Brexit and, eventually, working with other parties to defeat it.”

He added: “If all of this wasn’t bad enough we see a situation where powers that under Brexit could be passed to Scotland may remain at Westminster.

“There is still the clear intent on the part of the Tories to try and bypass Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh.

“Once again Theresa May is turning her back on four-nation politics.

McLeish, who succeeded Donald Dewar as First Minister in 2000, says the Scottish Tories also need to “rise to the challenge”.

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“We now have 13 Conservative MPs from Scotland in Westminster – the question should be, ‘Whose side are you on?’ “Are they willing to support this madness of Brexit or are they willing to put the interests of Britain and Scotland first and help the First Minister and help Labour at Westminster to derail and finally defeat this measure?”

A spokesman for the Scottish Tories did not agree with the ex-Labour chief’s assessment, saying: “Henry McLeish seems to be terribly confused. The 13 MPs he refers to aren’t representatives of the SNP or SNP party policy, like he appears increasingly to be. They are Scottish Conservatives who’ll do what’s best for Scotland and the UK.”

A Scottish Labour spokesperson said they would wait to see what amendments were made to the government’s repeal bill in Westminster before making any decision on whether or not to consent, adding. “Labour believes there should be a jobs-first Brexit – not one that allows the Tories to erode workplace rights, consumer rights or environmental standards.

“Labour will seek a clear and binding commitment to repatriate powers in devolved areas to the Scottish Parliament. We will insist this must be done in a short, but achievable timeframe. Labour has been clear that unless the Tory government addresses the issues we have raised, we will not be supporting the Bill as it stands.

“Labour will, however, seek to amend the Bill in the UK Parliament, and our attitude to a Legislative Consent Motion in the Scottish Parliament will depend on what amendments are made at Westminster.”

A spokesperson for Scotland’s Brexit secretary Michael Russell said the success or failure of the legislative consent motion would be down to the Tories, adding: “We have already made crystal clear to the Tory government that we will not recommend to the Scottish Parliament that it gives consent to the Brexit Bill as currently drafted.

“Taking Scotland out of Europe against our will – especially in the extreme form of Brexit proposed by the Tories – threatens to do untold damage to Scottish jobs, investment and living standards.

“The ball is now in the UK Government’s court. It’s up to them to prove they are serious about respecting Scotland and the other devolved governments. And it is up to Ruth Davidson to show that Scottish Tory MPs are not just Theresa May’s stooges.”

McLeish was not the only Labour figure speaking out against Brexit this week.

Former transport secretary under Tony Blair, Lord Adonis, said Brexit would be the worst mistake Britain has made since the appeasement of the Nazis in the 1930s.

He said: “My view is that the Labour Party should stand behind staying in the single market and the customs union – I’ve argued that in the House of Lords. I couldn’t have been clearer.”

He added: “There is no way that the Labour Party, as the party representing the working people of this country, is going to take a position that sacrifices their jobs and makes them poorer, and if it were to take that position, and we were to do a hard Brexit, then I do believe this would be the worst mistake this country has made since appeasement in the 1930s and it will impoverish millions of working people.”