JOHN McDonnell has dismissed as "farcical" talk of a rift with Jeremy Corbyn on Labour’s support for Tory tax cuts for the better-off.

Following last week’s Budget when Philip Hammond gave 32 million workers an effective tax cut by raising the personal allowance to £12,500 and the higher rate income tax threshold to £50,000, the Shadow Chancellor said that a future Labour government would not scrap the moves as this would take money out of the pockets of middle earners.

Mr McDonnell insisted that under his party’s fair tax system, any giveaways to high earners would be “clawed back”.

But the leadership’s decision caused ructions in Labour ranks.

Last week, some 20 Opposition MPs defied Mr Corbyn by voting against the tax cuts; the order from party managers was to abstain. Richard Leonard, the Scottish Labour leader, also appeared to distance himself from the UK leadership’s position, saying that raising the higher rate threshold for income tax “should not be a priority” for the Scottish Government when it introduces its Budget next month.

One party insider suggested there was a rift at the top of the party, saying: “It's definitely true that John McDonnell is desperate not to create the impression of being seen to clobber middle earners on tax whereas Jeremy is less concerned. He does not want to offend the Left.”

But asked on BBC 5Live’s Pienaar’s Politics if there had been recent tensions between him and Mr Corbyn over Labour’s approach to tax, Mr McDonnell said: “Every autumn, the clocks go back, we celebrate Diwali or November 5 and then there’s this story about a split between me and Jeremy.

“One year, there was a story about how I was held in ransom, kidnapped him to prevent him resigning, in the same week I was launching a coup against him. This is farcical.”

Asked if he was launching a coup against Mr Corbyn, the Shadow Chancellor replied: “Don’t be daft. This is what you don’t understand. We’ve worked together for nearly 40 years. We talk every day; we’ve never had a political disagreement. You just don’t understand socialist solidarity. I’ll take you on a training course.”