THE Scottish Labour leader and his deputy have been accused of “empty words” on their own Brexit policy after an analysis showed they had barely mentioned a second EU referendum.

Richard Leonard and Lesley Laird have talked of a new vote sparingly in press releases since the Scottish party backed another vote, while at the same time blasting a no-deal Brexit on nearly 30 occasions.

A party source said parliamentarians and activists were getting “increasingly frustrated” at the stance adopted by the leadership.

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On Leonard’s watch, Scottish Labour slumped to fifth place in the European elections after a campaign that was widely viewed as disastrous. The leader’s colleagues believed Labour was punished for being ambiguous on a second referendum, while parties that were unequivocally in favour of another vote made gains.

Leonard, a left winger, was accused after the election of copying the policy adopted by his ally Corbyn, who has not been an enthusiastic supporter of another Brexit vote.

Recognising the scale of the defeat, Leonard promised to change his approach and he persuaded his party on June 8 to back a second vote on any Brexit deal.

“I am pleased that Scottish Labour’s Executive Committee has endorsed my call for the party to back a confirmatory vote on any Brexit deal with Remain as an option on the ballot paper,” he said at the time. “Scottish Labour will wholeheartedly campaign for a Remain victory in such a vote.”

However, although Leonard repeated his support for a second vote 24 hours later, The Herald on Sunday could find no examples of him repeating this phrase in any press release since that point.

In late June, in the context of Boris Johnson’s Tory leadership bid, he hit out at a no-deal Brexit and said Scottish Labour was committed to standing up for the UK’s “place in Europe”, but did not mention a referendum. An identical form of words was used on July 23 – when Johnson became Tory leader – where he also blasted no deal twice.

Although Leonard flagged up his party’s support for a “confirmatory vote” on Twitter on the day of the policy change, he has not mentioned it since on the social media platform.

The same analysis found one example of Laird, who is Corbyn’s shadow Scottish Secretary and Leonard’s number two, mentioning “confirmatory vote” in a press release after June 8. She referred to no deal around 25 times in the same period.

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In a summer blog, Laird sounded downbeat about voters having another say on Brexit: “With Parliament in gridlock I have expressed my fears that there were significant challenges for Parliament to overcome to be able to deliver a confirmatory vote. Sadly, my fears were borne out, and no consensus was found ... With Parliament unable to reach agreement, a confirmatory vote, I believe, is a way to try and break the impasse.

“But with new Prime Minister Boris Johnson looking increasingly set to embrace a no-deal Brexit, the prospects do not look good, as by simply doing nothing he can run down the clock and crash us out of the European Union.”

A Scottish Labour source said: “We were told there had been a decisive change in policy following the European election, but so far it appears it was nothing but empty words. There has been no push to explain to the public that we’re unambiguously a pro-remain party, and MSPs, MPs and activists knocking on doors are getting increasingly frustrated.”

Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Scottish Labour is being punished for its garbled position on Brexit because the public can see straight through their attempt to play both sides. Liberal Democrats are campaigning ferociously for a people’s vote so the public can have the final say on Brexit. We’re the only party that is both pro-UK and pro-EU.”

SNP MSP Tom Arthur said: “Richard Leonard’s conversion to the anti-Brexit cause appears to have lasted around as long as any of the party’s many other positions.

“The fact is, Labour’s position on Brexit is as clear as mud – mired in contradiction, confusion and obfuscation.”

Leonard told The Herald on Sunday: “Scottish Labour’s policy is clear, we need a confirmatory vote on any Brexit deal with a Remain option on the ballot paper. Scottish Labour will wholeheartedly campaign for a Remain victory in such a vote.

“Since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister the threat of there being a no-deal Brexit has drastically increased. A no-deal Brexit would be completely catastrophic for industry, for the economy and for people across Scotland, so it is also right that we unashamedly fight against it.”