Jeremy Corbyn has said he was the victim of “mischievous misreporting” after it was reported he said he was “absolutely fine” with a second Scottish independence referendum.
On Saturday the Labour leader triggered a fresh internal-party row following an interview with the Press Association.
“If a referendum is held then it is absolutely fine, it should be held. I don’t think it’s the job of Westminster or the Labour Party to prevent people holding referenda.”
But speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Corbyn claimed:
“There was a bit of mischievous misreporting there. I was asked if in Westminster we would block the holding of a referendum. I said ‘no’, if the Scottish parliament wanted to have a referendum then it would be wrong for Westminster to block it.”
He added: “To be absolutely clear, I do not think there should be another referendum.”
Corbyn said independence would be an “economic catastrophe” for Scotland.
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has said the party is opposed to a referendum.
Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s justice spokeswoman, said Corbyn’s comments to PA had been “misguided and irresponsible” and were and were an “insult” to the party’s activists who had been campaigning against a second referendum,
Ian Murray, Labour’s only MP in Scotland, said Corbyn was “destroying the party”.
Nicola Sturgeon mocked Corbyn and the Labour Party after his initial comments about a referendum were reported.
The row comes amid reports the Scottish first minister is to try to “derail” Brexit by outlining plans for a second independence referendum.
Sturgeon is due to hold a press conference - announced at the last minute - this morning.
The Daily Telegraph has said she could name the date for a referendum as early as this week if Theresa May does not agree to her wishes.
Sturgeon has previously hinted that autumn 2018 would be a suitable time to call a referendum.
Any ultimatum given on Monday morning would have the intention of influencing a Commons vote later in the day.
If the Article 50 Bill triggering the exit from the EU is passed, it could win royal assent as early as Tuesday, allowing May to begin the two-year Brexit process.
Sturgeon is believed to want the Prime Minister to include a series of demands for Scotland to be given special treatment in negotiations.
Downing Street has refused to give in to her demands to alter plans unless it faces parliamentary rebellion over the issue.