RICHARD Leonard is to consider backing a second independence referendum after a series of senior Scottish Labour figures threw their weight behind a new vote.

In a major development yesterday, frontbencher Monica Lennon was among those calling for a new approach following Labour’s disastrous General Election defeat, saying the “future of Scotland must be decided by the Scottish people”.

Lennon, who is the party’s Holyrood health spokeswoman and a key Leonard ally, said while she was opposed to independence “people in Scotland have voted in very large numbers for the SNP, including many Labour voters”.

She told the Sunday Mail: “The SNP blueprint for independence is flawed and will disappoint many progressive Scots who are fed up with austerity. Nevertheless, the future of Scotland must be decided by the people of Scotland.”

READ MORE: Labour frontbencher Monica Lennon backs second independence referendum

Former Scottish Labour MP Ged Killen, who lost the Rutherglen and Hamilton West seat to the SNP, signalled his agreement on Twitter.

He said: “I campaigned on a promise to vote against indyref2, but I lost. The SNP made massive gains on a promise to hold another referendum and, as democrats, we must accept it even if we don’t like it.”

Neil Findlay, the Labour MSP and another of Leonard’s close political allies, also backed the idea of a second referendum despite reiterating his concerns that independence could ultimately lead to further austerity.

“As Scottish Labour surveys the ashes of the latest political earthquake, some fundamental questions must be asked and I cannot say this loudly enough – we cannot run away from the independence question,” he wrote in a post on Facebook. “As a democrat first and foremost I accept that the people of Scotland have the right to choose their own future.”

And former Scottish Labour general secretary Brian Roy wrote on Twitter: “Every election since 2015 has made it clear Scottish Labour can no longer represent a middle ground of nationalism and unionism.

“Neither should it stand in the way of the democratic will of the Scottish people, or ever again be seen to be complicit with the Tories in doing so.

“The argument I am making is one of self-determination. I am not advocating for independence. If there is a mandate and the Scottish Parliament votes for it, we should accept it.”

Their comments came after Labour councillor Alison Evison, the president of the local authority group Cosla, said on Saturday democracy could be strengthened “by enabling the voice of Scotland to be heard through its formal processes”, adding “that must mean a referendum on independence”.

Reports last night suggested Leonard would consider the calls to support a second plebiscite.

READ MORE: Ousted Scottish Labour MP says party must back 'radical reform' of constitution

Meanwhile, an open letter by “Scottish Labour for Radical Democracy” was published demanding indyref2 and non-violent civil disobedience if the UK Government refuses. It was signed by dozens of party and trade union activists.

Nicola Sturgeon is this week expected to make a request to Boris Johnson for a transfer of power from Westminster to Holyrood to enable a second vote. The Scottish Government will also publish a document setting out its case for the vote. A change in position from Labour would increase the pressure on the Prime Minister to agree to another referendum.

The SNP’s Ian Blackford said: “The SNP have a cast iron mandate to hold an independence referendum and the UK Government must respect that. It is welcome that senior figures within Labour are recognising that mandate. While we will not all agree on independence, we can surely find common ground that this decision must be in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s.”

As debate raged in Scottish Labour over its indyref2 stance, former leader Kezia Dugdale said opponents of independence needed to find a new argument for keeping Scotland in the UK. She told No campaigners: “You’re wasting precious time arguing about mandates. Last referendum won by persuading centre-left voters 1) EU membership only safe in UK 2) A progressive Labour government was on the horizon 3) Currency and economic security.

“Reasons 1 and 2 have melted away and the Yes movement have been working on 3 since 2014.

“You need a new argument for the Union which isn’t rooted in Queen and country Unionism.”