RICHARD Leonard will today be urged by his MSPs to finally stand up for himself, as Scottish Labour’s crisis over its position on an independence referendum enters its second week.

The Scottish leader will face his rebellious Holyrood group at the party’s Glasgow HQ as he tries to show he still retains a modicum of authority.

A party source said: “This is going to be a tense meeting and MSPs will plead for Richard and his team to stand up to the Corbyn Project and dissuade them from writing off Scottish Labour.

“There’s a great deal of distress within the group about the party’s future, but the biggest concern is what the cost of this could be for the future of the UK.”

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Another predicted MSPs would “let off steam”, but that, as in other meetings led by Mr Leonard, the party would not decide on any specific course of action.

Mr Leonard was humiliated last week after Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell unilaterally rewrote Scottish Labour policy on another independence vote at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Despite Mr Leonard saying in March that a UK Labour government would refuse to allow Indyref2, even if Holyrood demanded it, Mr McDonnell twice said that was not the case.

“That’s up to the Scottish people and the Scottish Parliament. I’m not into blocking democratic exercises by any means,” he said, adding Jeremy Corbyn thought so too.

With a general election likely soon, the comment was seen as extending an olive branch to Nicola Sturgeon in case SNP MPs are needed to sustain a minority Labour government at Westminster.

The First Minister yesterday said it was “a refreshing change” to Mr McDonnell “recognise and accept that it is the Scottish Parliament and people who should decide” on Indyref2.

But Mr McDonnell’s intervention unleashed a wave of party infighting, with most Labour MSPs saying they “deplore” any attempts to undermine Scottish Labour’s position.

They said on Thursday: “We are clear Labour’s position on Scotland’s future is a decision for Scottish Labour, which the UK party must accept.”

In a further blow to Mr Leonard’s standing, it then emerged the statement was issued against his express wishes by the chair of Labour MSPs, Jackie Baillie.

Mr Leonard, a strong supporter of Mr Corbyn who has failed to repeat his March position since Mr McDonnell’s comments, had wanted to avoid a confrontation with London.

On Friday, Scottish Labour general secretary Brian Roy quit with immediate effect, amid reports he had been ousted as Mr Corbyn’s office takes greater control of the Scottish operation.

Mr Leonard, who has been leader since November 2017, was also reported to have lost confidence in Mr Roy after Scottish Labour crashed to 9 per cent of the vote in May’s European election.

Although today’s “away-day” in Glasgow was arranged long before the current crisis, MSPs are expected to use it to push Mr Leonard not to let Scottish Labour regain its “branch office” tag.

The Scottish party’s precarious finances, and its reliance on London for cash, are also expected to come up.

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Sources said MSPs were mainly angry at the UK leadership, not Mr Leonard, but he still had to get on the front foot.

One MSP said the “clumsiness and disregard” with which Mr McDonnell had treated the Scottish party was as bad as his message on the Union.

There is also renewed focus on Lesley Laird, the Shadow Scottish Secretary, who as a member of the shadow cabinet should take the same line as Mr McDonnell, but as Mr Leonard’s deputy would also be expected to take the same stand as the Scottish leader.

Labour peer Lord Foulkes, a former MSP, yesterday admitted he had told Ms Laird to her face that he thought “almost anyone would be better than her”.

SNP MSP Keith Brown said: “Scottish Labour are an utter shambles. Voters can see they’re out of ideas. Their credibility is in tatters, and Labour members must despair at the lack of leadership in standing up to the Tories.

“If Labour want to stand a chance of recovery, they need to start standing up for the interests of the Scottish people – against Brexit, and for Scotland taking its future into its own hands.”

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said Mr McDonnell’s action been “the political equivalent of a drive-by shooting”, except that he had “reversed the car to have another go”.