JEREMY Corbyn could grant a second independence referendum even if the SNP failed to win most seats at the next Holyrood election, Richard Leonard has said.

The Scottish Labour leader said a combined majority of SNP and Green MSPs would be sufficient to trigger Indyref2 after 2021.

Labour’s manifesto says the party would not grant Holyrood the power to hold another vote “in the early years of a UK Labour government”, meaning not before the 2021 election.

The Scottish Tories said Scottish Labour was “opening the door” to Indyref2.

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Tory Scottish Secretary Alister Jack last week said only an outright SNP majority in that election would constitute an “electoral mandate” for a new vote on the constitution.

However Mr Leonard said even if the SNP had a minority of seats there could still be another referendum if other parties - essentially the Greens - had stood on a similar manifesto commitment to holding Indyref2 and delivered the numbers at Holyrood.

In theory, that would include a scenario where the SNP and Greens both went backwards from their 2016 positions of 63 and six MSPs but stayed at or above a combined total of 65.

Appearing on BBC Radio Scotland, he said: "A mandate would need to be achieved through the election of parties into a majority that had a clear mandate to hold a second independence referendum.

“But as the leader of the Scottish Labour party I am determined that that will not happen.

“Because in the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections I will be leading the Labour party to win those elections.”

READ MORE: Scottish Greens call for second independence referendum next year

He added: “If the SNP or other parties put in their manifesto that they wanted to hold a second independence referendum and they got a mandate for that, either in 2021 or 2026 or at some future point, then of course what we are saying is that would not be blocked by a UK Labour Westminster government.”

Mr Corbyn has said he would not block Indyref2 if the public voted for it.

Asked about his previous position of flatly ruling out Indyref2, Mr Leonard said: “We are saying no to a second independence referendum in the early years of a Labour government, and we will review the position after that dependent on future election years.

“Two to three [years] I would have thought at least would be the period we are looking at, and after that it really depends on where the electoral picture in Scotland is.

“I am clear that with the election of a Labour government the terms of debate on the constitutional position of Scotland would change.

“Because instead of a UK government embarking on a programme of austerity you would see a UK Government embarking on a programme of significant investment in both the economy and our public services, and that would change the terms of the debate.

“The other part of the debate that would change of course is that a Labour government committed to holding a people’s vote in the first six months on Brexit.

“If there is a vote to Remain that takes away the principal argument the SNP are currently relying on to justify their case for a second independence referendum, so lots of things could change.”

Acting Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw said: “This confirms Richard Leonard has fallen into line with Jeremy Corbyn in opening the door for a second independence referendum.

“Voters can now be left in no doubt that a vote for Labour is a vote for a return to the bitterness and division of a campaign to break up Britain.

“People in Scotland want to move on from referendums, but now both Labour and the SNP are fighting to keep that misery going.”

Last week Mr Jack said an SNP majority win, as in 2011, would be the trigger for Indyref2.

He said: “The democratic mandate for a Section 30 order is a matter for 2021. We’ll see whether or not the Scottish National Party get a majority then.

“I mean the Scottish National Party - not in collaboration with other parties, not in any alliances - but a Scottish National Party majority.”

Mr Jack’s comment, which contradicted Boris Johnson’s flat refusal on Indyref2, was later disowned by Tory high command, who suggested he’d made a mistake.

However Mr Jack was merely echoing former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, who said in July that if Ms Sturgeon said in her next Holyrood manifesto “that she's going to hold another referendum and she wins a majority outright, then she can negotiate with the UK government in the same way as happened last time”.