LABOUR’S civil war on independence deepened yesterday after John McDonnell ignored the pleas of Richard Leonard and doubled down on his promise not to stand in the way of a second referendum.

Despite howls and fury from MPs, MSPs, and a number of candidates, the Shadow Chancellor contradicted the party’s policy on indyref2 for the second time in two days.

The row echoed grievances during the first indyref that the UK party treated the Scottish party like a “branch office”.

It also fuelled speculation Labour was getting ready to offer a Section 30 order in return for the SNP propping up a Jeremy Corbyn Government.

On Tuesday, speaking at an event at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe McDonnell promised that a Labour government would not block a new vote if that’s what people wanted.

“We would let the Scottish people decide. That’s democracy. There are other views within the party but that’s our view.”

That’s not the party’s position. In March this year Leonard said Labour would refuse a request for a new vote.

In a statement released at noon yesterday, Leonard revealed that he met with McDonnell, and “made clear” that a second independence referendum “is unwanted by the people of Scotland and is unnecessary”.

But, just minutes later, speaking at a second event at the Fringe, McDonnell was again seemingly at odds with his party’s chief in Scotland.

He said: “Our view is that another independence referendum is irrelevant, we’ve got to concentrate on the real issues facing people and yes, there will be a debate about the attitude of the UK Parliament and I’ve made my view clear on that,” he said.

“My view is exactly in line with Richard Leonard, which is we concentrate on the real issues, the independence referendum is a complete diversion.

“But I’ve also said continuously, I’m not being set up by Nicola Sturgeon to blame the UK Government for blocking the will of the Scottish people – that’s too trite a political manoeuvre that’s been taken on at the moment. In the situation we’re in at the moment, my view is that we will not be blocking a proposal.”

In an interview with the BBC, Ian Murray, the Labour MP for Edinburgh South, said McDonnell should apologise to Leonard: “Scottish Labour policy is UK Labour policy, it was written in our manifesto in 2017, that we would oppose a second independence referendum.

“That’s clear, that’s the policy and we’ve had no explanation from John McDonnell apart from him doubling down again today on why he would even consider an off-the-cuff remark on this kind of policy.”

In a joint statement, 12 of Scottish Labour’s candidates distanced themselves from McDonnell saying that wanted to “make it clear” that they opposed another referendum.

“We do not believe the answer to nationalism is more nationalism” they added.

Nicola Sturgeon said McDonnell’s comments on indyref2 were “a statement of basic democracy.”

Speaking at the official opening of a new renewable energy scheme in Stirling, the SNP leader added: “If you look at the poll this week, in Scotland, Labour don’t have that many voters left at all but of those they do have left, according to that poll 40% or so support independence so the position John McDonnell stated seems to me to be a politically sensible one from Labour’s perspective.

“The fact that Scottish Labour seems so opposed to it can only suggest that they are determined to continue their downward spiral that they’ve been on for the last few years.”

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson claimed McDonnell was paving the way for a “pact with the SNP in order to parachute Jeremy Corbyn into Number 10”.

She added: “The fact is this – Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell would happily sell Scotland down the river if they thought it could give them a sniff of power. That is a rank betrayal of the two million Scots – including thousands of Labour voters – who voted to stay part of the UK.”