SCOTTISH Labour’s week from hell only got worse yesterday when the party’s top official walked away, having reportedly been pushed out by leader Richard Leonard.

Brian Roy, who has been general secretary for the last five years, handed in his notice after he was told Leonard no longer had confidence in him.

The party has been in turmoil this week over the possibility of a second independence referendum.

The civil war was sparked on Tuesday when, speaking at an event at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, shadow chancellor John McDonnell promised that a Labour government would not block a new vote if that was what the people of Scotland wanted.

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

However, that is not the party’s position. In March this year, Leonard said Labour would refuse a request for a new referendum. In a statement on Wednesday, he revealed he met 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: “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.”

On Thursday, a release sent out on behalf of the party’s MSPs, said they deplored McDonnell’s “attempts to undermine the official policy position of the Scottish Labour Party.”

They also expressed “serious concerns about an apparent change in Labour’s position on a matter of vital importance to the future of Scotland”. However, it later transpired that the email, signed off by MSP group leader Jackie Baillie had not been backed by all MSPs, and had been sent out against the wishes of Leonard.

An email signed off by Baillie, revealed on pro-independence website CommonSpace, showed the party leader did not want the statement to be published.

Roy, who had worked for the Labour Party since 2007, said he had decided to step down in order to move on to “new challenges”.

The party has indicated that deputy general secretary Lorna Finlayson step up in the interim, pending a recruitment process.

In a statement, Roy said: “After 12 years working for the Labour Party, under four UK Labour leaders and seven Scottish leaders, it is time for me to move on to new challenges.

“Having been at the very centre of Scottish Labour during the most

turbulent political times, I have worked hard to unite the party, drive our campaigns forward, develop and diversify our candidates, and modernise our campaign machine.”

Leonard thanked Roy for his “dedication and hard work”.

Scottish Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said Labour were “battering themselves into oblivion”.