LABOUR’s John McDonnell has said the party won’t stand in the way of a second referendum on independence, but only “if there is a mandate from the Scottish people”.

The comments annoyed independence supporters.

The SNP have previously said that they already have a “clear democratic mandate to offer the choice of independence” to Scots.

Speaking yesterday morning McDonnell described a referendum as “a complete irrelevance”.

But, he added, “if there is a mandate from the Scottish people, and the Scottish people will determine that mandate, we’ve said we’ll not stand in the way of it.”

Asked if he would say yes or no to a request for a Section 30 order from Nicola Sturgeon, the Labour frontbencher said the party would have “enough on our plate” in the early days of government.

McDonnell said: “I think the Scottish people will determine the mandate.

“When we go into power as a Labour Government, we are going to be faced with tackling the issues of Brexit; faced with nine years of austerity; and the existential threat of climate change.”

He added: “A Labour Government would have enough on its hands. Do we really want to distract from the key issues when you have children living in poverty, when you have climate change threatening the very existence of our future generations, when we are inheriting such a mess from the Tory party?”

The SNP MSP Angus McDonald tweeted: “All well and good, but we already have a mandate.”

Last night, speaking to ITV Border, Richard Leonard said that calls for a second independence referendum were “not backed up by popular support”.

Leonard said here would have to be a “demonstrable show that people of Scotland the second referendum”.

The National: Richard Leonard doesn't believe there is a popular backing for independenceRichard Leonard doesn't believe there is a popular backing for independence

He said it wasn’t “simply about parliamentary majorities” but there “several tests that would need to be satisfied” before a Westminster government allowed a vote.

It wasn’t clear what those tests were.

In his speech, McDonnell said Scotland could get an additional £3 billion if Labour wins the next General Election.

He told activists: “When we get into power as a Labour government we’re going to be faced with tackling the issue of Brexit, wherever we are in that, if Boris Johnson has forced a No-Deal Brexit the catastrophe that that is. We’ll be faced with addressing nine years of austerity, we will be faced with the existential threat of climate change. They’re my priorities.”

But he also made clear a Labour government at Westminster could lead to extra cash for Scotland, as he accused SNP ministers at Holyrood of having “passed on every Tory austerity cut”.

In the 2017 General Election he said Labour’s spending plans would have meant an additional £3bn of cash going to ministers in Edinburgh under the Barnett formula.

McDonnell pledged: “For the next election, hopefully in a few weeks time, we will go further. Because there are things that are too important to leave.”

In his speech, Leonard set out his “positive agenda for real change” promising that Labour would replace the House of Lords with a senate of the nations and regions.

The proposal was first put forward by Ed Miliband in the party’s 2015 election.

Leonard also pledged land reforms, including a residency requirement for landowners “to discourage absentee landlordism – even if you happen to be the President of the United States of America”.