LABOUR must not oppose a second independence referendum – and the Scottish party should be able to back Yes, a candidate to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as party leader exclusively argues in The National today.

In a dramatic intervention, shadow minister Clive Lewis said people in Scotland should not be “dictated to” by MPs representing constituencies in England and that they should have the right to determine the form of government best suited to their needs. He called for Scottish Labour to be fully autonomous from the UK party.

“It is little surprise ... that many Scots see themselves not as partners in a union of equal nations, but as a country shackled instead to a dysfunctional political system that is costing them dearly,” he said, pointing to the experience of Scots being governed by Conservative administrations they did not vote for.

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“Given the option to exit the UK, it is little wonder that so many now support independence and given the prospect of at least five years of Tory rule imposing a Brexit that Scotland did not vote for, the question of independence and a second referendum is unavoidable.”

He added: “In the words of the 1989 Scottish Constitutional Convention, supported by Labour MPs, I believe ‘in the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs.’

“It is not for me, as an English MP for an English constituency, to dictate to Scotland what that form of government should be, and there should be no question of Labour opposing a second independence referendum if there is a mandate to hold one.”

The frontbencher is the first leadership contender to support Scotland’s right to choose. He is the first too to explicitly underline the importance of Scotland in the contest and to present an article for publication in a Scottish newspaper.

The MP for Norwich South also argued that “Labour should be honest with itself and admit the UK wasn’t a nation of equals”. However he stopped short of backing independence saying that “radical federalism” was his preferred option for the UK’s constitutional future.

He wrote: “It remains my conviction, nonetheless, that radical federalism, with the maximum possible autonomy for Scotland would provide the best solution for all the constituent nations of the United Kingdom.

“This is because my politics is driven by a belief in building alliances and whether in the UK or in Europe, I believe we are stronger when we work together.

“But I want to be part of a union where everyone feels heard and their needs are accounted for. We have to be honest and admit that this simply isn’t the case at the moment.”

READ MORE: Clive Lewis: Scotland has the right to decide its own future

He went on: “Nor should any English party dictate to the Scottish. Scottish Labour, like Welsh Labour, should have full autonomy from the English – free to decide their views on fundamental questions like support for independence, acting as a Labour Party for Scotland, not only a Labour Party in Scotland.”

Lewis, who is on the left of the Labour Party, argued a strong Labour Party was needed to hold the Scottish Government to account, and described the SNP’s Growth Commission as “pro-austerity” – a criticism rejected by Nicola Sturgeon.

His view is in contrast to Jess Phillips’s who told the BBC: “I don’t think we should have another referendum on Scottish independence – 53% of the Scottish public in the General Election did not vote for a party that was promoting independence. I think we should be talking about things that are relevant to the lives of people in Scotland.

“I can’t see a circumstance where I think it would be better for Scotland to leave the UK.”

Responding to Phillips, SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said Labour would continue to “fade into political irrelevance” in Scotland as long as the party does not respect the right to self-determination.