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Corbyn under fire from Labour MPs after 'backing second referendum'

Jeremy Corbyn faced a furious backlash from Labour MPs after saying it is "absolutely fine" for another vote to go ahead on Scottish independence.

The party leader was accused of a "special type of idiocy" after he s aid Westminster should not seek to block another independence referendum if First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insists on holding one.

Scotland's only Labour MP said Mr Corbyn was "destroying" the party and senior ally of Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale branded the comments "irresponsible".

Party officials later issued a statement to clarify the party's position and Mr Corbyn later made a fresh comment stating Scottish Labour would oppose a second referendum.

Ms Sturgeon seized on the divisions, tweeting "a lways a pleasure to have @jeremycorbyn campaigning in Scotland".

Ian Murray, Edinburgh South MP, tweeted: " Often asked why I resigned from Shadow Cabinet. Ladies & Gentlemen I give u Jeremy Corbyn. He's destroying the party that soo many need.

" Independence would be disaster for Scotland and my constituents. Supporting another Indy ref goes against wishes of Scots. Wrong then & now."

Backbencher Wes Streeting said: "When Tories are on ropes over budget, it takes a special type of idiocy to back an independence referendum. Slow clap @jeremycorbyn. Enough."

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said: "This is a misguided and irresponsible comment from Jeremy Corbyn that is an insult to the dedicated work of Scottish Labour MSPs, councillors, and thousands of activists who have campaigned against a divisive second referendum.

"Scottish Labour proudly fought against independence in 2014 and is 100% committed to the Union.

"Jeremy Corbyn does not speak for me on this and it's clear that he does not speak for many of his MPs who - unlike him - took the time to come to Scotland to fight for the Union and saw first hand how divisive the SNP's referendum was.

"Kezia Dugdale has made absolutely clear that Scottish Labour will oppose a second referendum at every opportunity. Jeremy's comments today have not changed that position in any way shape or form."

Speculation is mounting that Ms Sturgeon is about to demand a Section 30 order from Westminster, allowing a legally binding vote on Scotland's place in the UK to be held.

She has repeatedly warned a fresh ballot is "highly likely" after Scots voted to remain in the European Union and the UK as a whole voted to leave.

Ms Dugdale has made clear her opposition to another ballot on the issue being held, with Scots having voted to stay in the UK by 55% to 45% in September 2014.

When asked if a second independence referendum appeared inevitable given the gulf between Ms Sturgeon goal's of keeping Scotland in the single market and Theresa May's plans for a UK wide hard Brexit, Mr Corbyn told Press Association Scotland: "If a referendum is held then it is absolutely fine, it should be held.

"I don't think it's the job of Westminster or the Labour Party to prevent people holding referenda."

But he stressed the importance of the economic ties between Scotland and the rest of the UK, and on the issue of further devolution stressed any new powers transferred north as a result of Brexit should go further than just Holyrood.

Mr Corbyn said: " I do think we should set it within the context of the economic relationship with the rest of the UK and the question of devolution of EU to English regions and to Scotland, and to parts of Scotland rather than just to the government in Holyrood, because the principle of regionalism is it goes to everybody within a region, not just to the central powers and the SNP have a bit of a tendency to centralise things around themselves."

But he made clear that if there is a vote in the Commons on whether Scotland should have another independence referendum, Labour "wouldn't block it".

In a statement later, he said: "Scottish Labour will oppose another referendum on independence. If the Scottish parliament votes for one, we will not block that democratic decision at Westminster. But if there is another referendum we will vigorously oppose independence on the basis it would lead to turbo charged austerity for Scotland."

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