SCOTTISH Labour’s new constitutional spokesperson has confirmed his party will oppose a second referendum on independence until at least the end of the next Holyrood session in 2026.

But his commitment has sparked fury from one of his Scottish Labour colleagues who accused Mr Sarwar of “making stuff up on the hoof”.

Anas Sarwar, who Richard Leonard appointed as his party’s new constitution spokesperson earlier this week, warned that the priority for Scotland in the next Parliament must be rebuilding the economy and frontline services.

Mr Sarwar, who lost out to Mr Leonard in the party’s leadership contest in 2017 before being sacked from the front bench a year later – told the Representing Border programme that his party will oppose any talk of a re-run of the 2014 referendum until 2026.

He said: “We will clearly go into the next election saying that we don’t believe now is the right time for an independence referendum – coming through a pandemic.

“We are saying no independence referendum because now is not the right time.”

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He added that “Labour will be going into the next election opposing an independence referendum”, before clarifying that commitment will last for the entire next term of the Scottish Parliament which will run for five years after May’s election.

Mr Sarwar admitted that concerning the matter of independence, “ultimately it’s for the people of Scotland to decide their own future”, adding that was “a fundamental principle, a democratic principle”.

He added: “But at the same time as that, we’ve got to recognise that we’re not going back to the old arguments of 2014.

“We are going through a pandemic that has changed the world and has changed Scotland and our focus for the next four or five years has to be coming through this pandemic, rebuilding our economy, getting people back into work, fixing our education system that has sadly broken under this government and rebuilding our National Health Service.

“That has got to be the priority for the next four or five years.”

But Mr Sarwar’s commitment has sparked anger from one of his Scottish Labour colleagues.

Lothians Labour MSP Neil Findlay accused Mr Sarwar of “just making stuff up on the hoof”, asking “when did this become policy” and “where was the debate?”

But Mr Findlay's leader, Mr Leonard, has also indicated the party will oppose a referendum taking place in the next Parliament - suggesting the Lothians MSP believes his leader has not held a debate on the subject.

Speaking in October, Mr Leonard said: “We do not favour a second referendum on Scottish independence during the course of the next term of the Parliament.”