JOHN McDonnell has said Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard "quite rightfully" refused to support raising the higher income tax band in line with Westminster – as backed by the UK party leadership.

Last week, the Shadow Chancellor controversially endorsed Chancellor Philip Hammond's Budget plans to give middle and high earners in England an effective tax cut by raising the 40p higher income threshold to £50,000, saying it put money in people’s pockets.

In Scotland under the SNP Government’s policy, people are taxed at 41 per cent on earnings above £43,430 and Mr Leonard made clear Scottish Labour would not support raising this level.

Appearing on Sunday Politics Scotland, Mr McDonnell said: "Richard Leonard, quite rightfully, because taxation is devolved, put forward the Scottish Labour Party proposals.

"The intellectual basis is this: we all agree on the common principles of a fair taxation system. That has to reflect the demographic that we represent and also it has to reflect the devolved nature of our decision-making in our country at the moment.

"Richard Leonard, quite rightfully, and the Scottish Labour Party have actually come forward with their tax proposals which are based upon fairness, based upon raising additional monies that will be put into public services.

"That's exactly the tax proposals and principles that we're putting forward here," said the Shadow Chancellor.

It has been estimated that a person in England earning £50,000 will, from April 2019 when Mr Hammond’s tax changes take effect, be paying around £1,100 less tax than their counterpart in Scotland.

However, Scottish ministers insist their tax regime is more progressive as a majority of Scots on lower wages pay less income tax.

Meanwhile, Mr McDonnell dismissed as “farcical” talk of a rift between himself and Jeremy Corbyn on Labour’s support for the Tory income tax cuts.

The Shadow Chancellor explained that while the party leadership supported the Budget measure, the party’s fair tax system when in government would mean any giveaways to high earners would be “clawed back”.

Yet the leadership’s decision caused ructions in the party's ranks.

Last week, some 20 Labour MPs defied Mr Corbyn by voting against the tax cuts; the order from the whips was to abstain.

A Labour 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 replied: “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 responded by saying: “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.”