SCOTTISH Labour has been thrown into disarray after John McDonnell doubled-down on his insistence that a Labour government should not block an independence referendum.

The shadow chancellor sparked a furious party backlash after he said it would be for the “Scottish Parliament and the Scottish people to decide” if another vote takes place.

Yesterday he repeated the claim, and also said UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn agreed with his position.

This flatly contradicts Scottish Labour's pledge not to grant Holyrood the power to hold another referendum, and will be seen as a humiliation for Scottish leader Richard Leonard.

Mr Leonard met with Mr McDonnell yesterday and said he “made clear to him that a second independence referendum is unwanted by the people of Scotland and it is unnecessary”.  

He said: “The 2014 referendum was a once in a generation vote. There is no economic case for independence, especially with the SNP’s new position of ditching the pound and new policy of turbo-charged austerity to bear down on the deficit.”

READ MORE: Labour 'would not block a second Scottish independence referendum'

However, less than an hour after this statement, Mr McDonell repeated his position during an interview at the Edinburgh Fringe with the journalist Graham Spiers.

He said: "What I said yesterday, that was not picked up, is actually what I want is a Labour Government, and let us demonstrate as a Labour Government what we can do to transform people's lives.

"And if, after a few years, people want to come back and say they want to test the water on an independence referendum then fair enough, that's up to the Scottish people and the Scottish Parliament. I'm not here to block a democratic exercise by any means."

He added: "For me, the priority is a Labour Government. If the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish people determine that they want another referendum, I'm not being set up by Nicola Sturgeon because that's what she's trying to do.

"She's trying to say it's the big bad English yet again trying to prevent us holding a referendum.

"No we're not. What we're saying is it's unnecessary. We will campaign against having a referendum, but we are not using parliamentary devices to block it — it's as simple as that."

Put to him that this was a change in Labour's policy, Mr McDonnell said: "That's the debate we are now having about how we go forward.

"My view is we shouldn't be allowed in this way to be manipulated by Nicola Sturgeon in that referendum debate, by trying to accuse a UK parliament of blocking the will of the Scottish people."

He later added: “It shouldn’t be down to English parliamentarians to block the will of the Scottish people."

Mr McDonnell said he had made his position clear in interviews over the last three years.

And he said Jeremy Corbyn had also expressed the view that a referendum should not be blocked.

The latest comments are a double humiliation for Mr Leonard, and have provoked widespread anger in the party.

A dozen Scottish Labour general election candidates have now released a joint statement insisting they “oppose another independence referendum”.

Martin Whitfield, Labour MP for East Lothian, said it was “deeply disappointing that John McDonnell has doubled down on his desire to ignore the party’s manifesto”, and branded it “an insult to Richard Leonard and the entire Scottish Labour Party, which is working hard to win back the trust of voters and help elect a Labour Government at Westminster”.

Daniel Johnson, Labour MSP for Edinburgh Southern, said the comments had "frustrated many Scottish Labour supporters".

He said: “The party is fully behind Richard Leonard in opposing a second independence referendum, which was our pledge at the last election and remains our commitment to voters.”

In March, Mr Leonard insisted a future Labour government would block a second referendum, even if the Scottish Parliament requested the Section 30 power to hold it.

But he apparently failed to make the shadow chancellor change his mind after their meeting yesterday morning.

Nor did Mr Leonard repeat his March position in his statement, suggesting he has now backtracked on it.

Speaking at the Fringe event, Mr McDonnell claimed Mr Leonard "understands where I'm coming from".

READ MORE: Richard Leonard meets John McDonnell amid Labour row over independence vote

Elsewhere, the shadow chancellor once again ruled out any pact or coalition "whatsoever" with the SNP or any other party.

He said he would not have a working arrangement with the SNP "because we're a socialist party; they are not".

He added: "My own view - I think they're Tories, it's as simple as that, and I always have thought that."

It came as Nicola Sturgeon said Labour is the "stumbling block" to forming a progressive alliance to halt the Conservatives.

The First Minister said she does not envisage any formal coalition with Labour but wants the SNP to be part of a "progressive alternative" to the Tories at Westminster.

She said: "The stumbling block to that is Labour - Labour are still on the fence on Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn is abdicating his position of leadership by not giving that clear direction.

"So we need to get Labour off the fence and then we can look to stopping Boris Johnson in his tracks, hopefully."

The latest row comes after a poll earlier this week showed support for Scottish independence has risen to 52 per cent, with 48% against. Among Labour supporters, a third said they would vote Yes.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson accused Labour of planning "a pact with the SNP in order to parachute Jeremy Corbyn into Number 10".

She said: “The fact is this - Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell would happily sell Scotland down the river if they thought it could give them a sniff of power."