DEEP splits emerged in Scottish Labour yesterday over whether it should break from the UK party, with one former MP vowing to quit if there was a separate Scottish operation.

Former minister Tom Harris, who lost his Glasgow South seat last month after 14 years in the Commons, said it would be "absurd" to have a stand-alone party north of the border.

He and many others would resign if it happened, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Last week, Labour MSP Alex Rowley publicly called for a fully autonomous Scottish Labour Party which regarded UK Labour as a "sister party" not its boss.

Two former Labour home secretaries, Charles Clarke and Jack Straw, have backed a new Scottish party, and leadership candidate Andy Burnham has said there is "a case" for it.

But Harris said: "We have spent three years persuading Scots of the value of a UK-wide political union - the benefits of pooling and sharing of resources.

"If the Scottish party turns its back on that principle then that exposes us to, I think, an absolutely justified accusation of at best double standards and at worst hypocrisy.

"Setting up an independent Scottish Labour Party would be exposed very quickly as being entirely inauthentic.

"No-one would believe that we actually meant it; they would see we were just doing it to try to win votes and that would be the death knell for the Labour Party."

Rowley said: "We cannot move forward if we can't have our own views in Scotland.

"Some of the people who are looking at this need to realise we are not a region of England.

"We're a country in our own right. We're a nation in our own right.

"Our relationship with the UK party needs to be built on that clear understanding."