RICHARD Leonard has said he would prefer a Labour Brexit to a second referendum with Remain on the ballot, despite 62 per cent of Scots voting to stay in the EU.

The Scottish Labour leader said if it came to a vote, he would support Remain.

THE SNP said the remark would "utterly dismay" many Labour supporters.

Labour MP Ian Murray also criticised Mr Leonard, saying his position would disappoint party members, as there was "no good Brexit".

Mr Leonard also suggested that if Brexit was delayed, it ought to be for longer than the two months posited by Number 10, even if that meant fighting the next European elections.

The ardent Corbyn-supporter was speaking after Labour MSPs discussed the latest developments on Brexit at their weekly meeting at Holyrood today.

He said that if Labour could not amend Theresa May’s deal as it wished, the party would back a second vote offering a choice between Remain and a “credible Leave option”.

He said Leave options might include no-deal, Mrs May’s deal or a variant of her deal.

He said Labour wanted a Brexit with a permanent customs union, close alignment with the single market, access to EU agencies and funding, security cooperation, and guarantees on workers' rights, consumer protection and the environment.

Asked whether his preference was for that deal or a referendum, he said: “For that deal.”

Scots voted 62-38 against Brexit in 2016, and polls show similar numbers of Scots continue to oppose it.

Asked why he was setting himself against the majority of Scottish voters, Mr Leonard said: “Well, because the referendum on the EU in the end was a UK-wide franchise, and that was the outcome of the people who took part.”

READ MORE: Most Scottish Labour MPs now back new Brexit vote

Mr Leonard, who became leader in November 2017, acknowledged Nationalists would use a second EU referendum to call for a second independence referendum.

However, downplaying the significance of that, he said those agitating for independence would always seize on the flimsiest pretext to do so.

Mr Leonard suggested that if MPs backed an extension to Brexit next month, it ought to be longer than the two months to the end of June identified by Mrs May.

He said: “I don’t think simply putting a time limit of two months on it is right.

“I think that the extension needs to take account of the fact that there is work to be done on trying to find a deal that’s acceptable.

“I think that there is growing evidence from the European Commission that they are prepared to lend credibility to the Labour option which is going to be put before parliament this week.

“I think given there are signals from the EU negotiating team that they would be prepared to work with that deal, I think it’s important the UK parliament gives proper consideration to that and I sincerely hope that the UK parliament would vote for that.”

Asked if he was therefore happy with an extension that took the UK into the next European Parliament session, he said: “I actually think that this decision is more important than the electoral cycle of the European parliament.”

READ MORE: Richard Leonard on Brexit: Now is the time to act and act radically

He said Labour’s Scottish Executive Committee had already discussed what it would do in the event of it having to contest the European poll in May, but refused to reveal them.

Labour won two of the six MEP positions in Scotland at the last election in 2014.

However one of those MEPs, Catherine Stihler, has already stood down to take up another job, meaning the party might need to find another candidate rapidly.

Asked about Nicola Sturgeon “making hay” with Mr Leonard backing Brexit, Scottish Labour Brexit spokesman Neil Findlay said: “Nicola Sturgeon has had about seven different positions on Brexit. She has regularly called for there to be a customs union.

“I think she would support Labour’s position in terms of the rights of people, whether they be workers or protecting the environment or all the rest of it. I don’t think there’s a great deal in the Labour proposals that...they would object to.”

READ MORE: Blow for Richard Leonard as leak reveals 5,000 Labour membership slump across Scotland

Ian Murray, the Labour MP for Edinburgh South, who has campaigned for a People's Vote, said: "These comments will disappoint many Scottish Labour members. There is no good Brexit, no jobs-first Brexit, and no better Labour Brexit. Nothing is as good as what we currently enjoy as a member of the EU.

"Jeremy Corbyn, Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry have been clear. We should have a public vote with the Prime Minister's deal versus remain on the ballot paper, and we must back remain for the sake of jobs and livelihoods in Scotland and across the UK."

SNP MSP George Adam said: “Richard Leonard has today confirmed that Scottish Labour is pro-Brexit – something that will utterly dismay many of its own supporters. 

“The clock is ticking on Brexit and we desperately need parties to work together against Theresa May’s bad deal and against no-deal.  

“But almost as soon as Labour say they could support a second referendum, Richard Leonard says it would be better for Brexit to go ahead. 

“That puts Labour completely at odds with the Scottish people – and it makes their apparent embrace of a second referendum look cynical in the extreme.

“It’s time for all parties to throw their weight behind a public vote, with Remain on the ballot, and put an end to this Brexit mess.”

Tory MSP Adam Tomkins added: “Even Richard Leonard is now admitting the utter shambles his party have gotten themselves into over Brexit.

“Allowing a second EU referendum sets a dangerous precedent, and as he admits himself, it could lead to a second independence referendum.

“It just goes to show once again how weak Labour are on the Union – they are willing to sell it out for political expediency.

“Only the Scottish Conservatives are willing and able to stand up to the SNP and their plans to rip Scotland out of the UK.”

Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie condemned Mr Leonard's 'red Brexit'.

He said: "Brexit would be bad for the economy and public services whether you paint it blue or red.

"Like Jeremy Corbyn, Richard Leonard has been reluctantly manoeuvred towards a People’s Vote but it’s disappointing that they are still not ruling out a Labour led Brexit.

“Anyone in the Labour party disappointed by the cynical triangulation of the Labour leadership should know that Scottish Liberal Democrats have been unwavering in support of a People’s Vote and the chance to remain in the EU.”