SCOTTISH Labour are expected to back a second independence referendum in a reversal of policy by Richard Leonard and a day after one of the UK party leadership hopefuls told The National the party should not block a new vote.

Leonard will raise that possibility at Labour’s Scottish executive committee tomorrow, according to a report in the Guardian, where it could also discuss demands for it to split formally from the UK Labour party.

The National understands that Leonard is likely to have majority backing among SEC members, though the body counts Jackie Baillie and Ian Murray who are opponents of any change in policy.

Yesterday Clive Lewis, who is running to replace Jeremy Corbyn as UK leader, told The National that Scottish Labour should back a referendum, although he supported “radical federalism” rather than independence. Lewis also backed Scottish Labour becoming autonomous from the UK party.

READ MORE: Clive Lewis says Labour must not oppose indyref2

The National: Clive LewisClive Lewis

Leonard told his shadow cabinet on Monday he wanted to hold a special conference in May to decide Scottish Labour’s position on a fresh independence referendum, where he would present proposals for Labour to back a federal UK.

Sources close to Leonard told the Guardian he would consider asking for a pro-federal option to be included in a multi-option referendum on independence in future. “Labour would be more willing to consider supporting a second referendum if it was multi-option,” one source reportedly said.

It is unclear if a multi-option vote would be supported by Nicola Sturgeon.

In an interview with the Daily Record before December’s General Election she said she would discuss that with Labour. “If they bring forward a credible proposition, then of course there has to be a discussion, but it’s not going to change my mind on independence,” she said.

The proposal for a radical change in policy follow complaints from former Scottish Labour MPs who lost their seats in the General Election, where the party suffered its worst defeat of the modern era, polling just 18.6% of the vote.

Their complaints echoed calls for a rethink by Monica Lennon, a Labour MSP who sits on the Scottish executive and shadow cabinet, and Grahame Smith, the outgoing General Secretary of the Scottish TUC. Labour lost six Westminster seats to the SNP in December, again leaving it with one Scottish MP.

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Leonard told his party’s shadow cabinet on Monday he wanted to hold a special conference in May to finally decide on whether to back staging a second independence vote without any conditions.

The Guardian reported that it understood Leonard still opposes holding a second referendum and proposals for Scottish Labour to split from the UK party.

However the issue will dominate the political agenda in Scotland ahead of next year’s Holyrood election and after the SNP won 48 of the country’s 59 Westminster seats last month standing on a manifesto to hold a new referendum.

Sturgeon has written to the Prime Minister seeking powers to hold a new plebiscite. Boris Johnson is yet to respond, though in the Commons on Wednesday he described the 2014 vote as “a once in a generation” event.

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A SNP spokesman said: “Scottish Labour’s failure to accept the overwhelming democratic mandate for Scotland to choose its own future is just one of the reasons the party has been abandoned by so many people. The fact that some Labour politicians recognise this and have called on their party to accept fundamental democratic principles is welcome.

“Boris Johnson’s bid to subvert democracy by blocking a referendum is not a sustainable position, and Scottish Labour would do well to get on the right side of this argument and on the right side of history.”