KEIR Starmer has said he stands by comments he made in January this year that, should they win a majority at Holyrood in 2021, then the SNP will have a mandate to hold a second independence referendum.

The UK Labour leader also admitted that there was "no route back" for his party that didn't go through Scotland.

Speaking on Sky News earlier today, Starmer said that independence was an issue for Scotland to answer, but only after being firmly pushed by journalist Beth Rigby.

After telling the Labour leader he was dodging her question, Rigby asked whether he stood by his former comments, that an SNP win at Holyrood would give the party a mandate to hold indyref2.

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Starmer answered: "Well these issues are questions for Scotland. I do stand by that."

He added that he had not been dodging questions, but "setting out the argument Scottish Labour will be making between now and next May".

Starmer also said that his party north of the Border would be making the argument that "another divisive referendum" is the "last thing that we need".

Commenting on Starmer's position, the Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said Labour were "throwing in the towel".

He said: “We are eight months from the Scottish Parliament election and already Labour are throwing in the towel and agreeing to the SNP’s demands.

“Yet again, Labour are proving they’re too much of a mess to stand up to the nationalists. They’ll give in at the first chance they get.

“The Scottish Conservatives are the only party who will stand up for the United Kingdom every time.”

Speaking for the UK Government, Michael Gove said: "Sir Keir Starmer has a problem accepting referendum results.

"He tried to block Brexit, and now he wants to work with Nicola Sturgeon to renege on the Scottish referendum result and break up the UK."

The seven most recent polls have all shown a majority support for Scottish independence.

According to Sir John Curtice's WhatUKThinks, the average of the most recent six polls on the EU question would put Remain in the majority by 53 per cent to 47.

The SNP have been asked for comment.