THE Labour leadership has been accused by the Scottish Conservatives of being prepared to “lie down and allow Scotland to be ripped out of Britain” after John McDonnell refused to say if a Corbyn government would block the staging of a second independence referendum.

The Shadow Chancellor once again made clear his party’s fulsome opposition to another vote on Scotland’s future but, when asked if a Labour government would not facilitate one, said only that it would “consider whatever proposals” came forward at the time.

In March 2017 after Holyrood mandated Nicola Sturgeon by 69 votes to 59 to seek a second independence referendum, Jeremy Corbyn stressed that he did not think Westminster should try to block a poll democratically backed by the Scottish Parliament.

He said at the time: “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,” adding that if there were a Commons vote on whether or not Scotland should have another referendum, Labour “wouldn’t block it”.

In September, the party leader, when asked, if as Prime Minister, he would refuse to facilitate the staging of so-called indyref2, he replied he was “not ruling out” a second poll and that a decision would be made “at the time”.

Later that month, Richard Leonard, the Scottish Labour leader, said: “I don't think there is any support for a second independence referendum, which is why we are going to categorically, in our manifesto in the lead-up to the General Election, which may come as soon as later this year, state our opposition to the holding of a second independence referendum."

Mr McDonnell, speaking on Sunday Politics Scotland, stressed Labour’s opposition to another Scottish independence vote, branding it a “complete distraction”.

But asked if a future Labour government would oppose facilitating such a poll, the Shadow Chancellor said: “We have been opposed to another referendum. We think it’s a complete distraction and maintain our opposition. Of course, the manifesto will be determined in the normal democratic process of the Labour Party.”

Asked again, Mr McDonnell, stressing how Mr Leonard was “on the same territory” as him, said: “Well, we will consider whatever proposals come from Scotland; of course, these are devolved issues that need to be discussed overall.”

Asked if he was backing Mr Leonard, the Shadow Chancellor said the party’s Scottish Labour leader had the UK leadership’s “100 per cent support and he is on the same agenda as us”.

But Adam Tomkins for the Scottish Tories said: “This is further evidence that Labour are comically weak when it comes to standing up to the SNP’s independence demands.

“It’s no wonder the party is tanking north of the border when its two most important figures couldn’t care less about Scotland.

“It’s clear a Labour government would lie down and allow Scotland to be ripped out of Britain,” declared the party’s spokesman on the constitution.

“That’s a shameful failing on Labour’s part and one which completely betrays the majority of voters in Scotland. This all goes to show, once again, that only the Scottish Conservatives can stand up to Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP,” he added.