Nicola Sturgeon has called on Labour leadership contender Lisa Nandy to apologise for comments suggesting Scotland should ‘look to Catalonia’ for ways to 'deal with divisive nationalism'.

The Wigan MP suggested Scotland should take cues from Spain when dealing with the issue of independence, despite large-scale civil unrest across the autonomous region over an unsanctioned referendum.

Ex-Catalan minister and St Andrews University professor Clara Ponsati is one of several former politicians wanted for extradition to Spain to face charges of sedition for their part in organising the vote.

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In a television interview with BBC presenter Andrew Neil, Nandy suggested Scottish independence could be defeated by a “social justice agenda”.

However, when Neil challenged the Labour MP over her equating the independence movement with far-right nationalism, Nandy argued the country has “had enough of referendums”.

She said: "We should look outwards to other parts of the world where they've had to deal with divisive nationalism.”

"We should seek to discover the lessons from when, in brief moments in history in places like Catalonia and Quebec, that we have managed to go and beat narrow, divisive nationalism with a social justice agenda."

At First Minister’s Questions, Nicola Sturgeon suggested Ms Nady should apologise for her comments and the concern they had caused.

She was responding to SNP backbencher Angela Constance, who said Labour supporters would be “mortified” by Ms Nandy’s “frankly offensive” leadership pitch. 

The First Minister said she was going to “give Lisa Nandy the benefit of the doubt”. 

She said: “I’m going to assume, hard though it may be to believe, that when she made the comments that she did she hadn’t paid attention to what has actually happened in Catalonia in recent times.

“Because if she had, she would surely not have suggested that there are any positive lessons at all to be learned from that.

“So perhaps Lisa Nandy should take the opportunity to clarify exactly what she did mean, recognise the concern that it has caused, and perhaps even apologise for that.”

Catalonia's 2017 independence referendum saw police violence against voters and ballot boxes seized by authority figures.

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Hundreds of people have been injured in violent clashes between police and independence supporters in several demonstrations since then.

Nandy rejected Neil’s suggestion Scottish independence went “hand in hand” with social justice, adding she would not support another vote on the issue.

She said: “I think it suits the Scottish nationalists actually to keep this argument going about independence because while the entire conversation in Scotland is focused on the constitution, nobody is paying attention to their record which is frankly appalling.”