Kezia Dugdale has accused Nicola Sturgeon of lying over claims she privately told her Scottish Labour could drop its opposition to independence.
In the final Scottish leaders’s debate before the general election, the First Minister claimed Dugdale suggested her party’s position on a second Scottish referendum could change in the wake of the Brexit vote.
While talking about the impact of Britain’s decision to leave the EU, Sturgeon told Dugdale: “You used to agree with me on that. You and I spoke the day after the EU referendum and you told me then that you thought the change with Brexit meant that Labour should stop opposing a referendum.”
When pressed further by Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, the First Minister said: “She said that she thought Brexit changed everything and that she didn’t think Labour could go on opposing a second independence referendum.”
The Tories seized on the revelation as a ‘bomshell’ and ‘an utter disgrace’.
But Dugdale strenuously denied the claims and said Sturgeon was not telling the truth.
“This is a lie from Nicola Sturgeon,” said a Scottish Labour spokesman.
“It is insulting and demeaning to the office of First Minister. It is nothing but a final act of desperation from an SNP leader who knows the public has turned against her. It shows how far she is prepared to go in the hope of electing a Tory government.
“Kezia Dugdale campaigned tirelessly against independence in the 2014 referendum. She has always campaigned tirelessly against a divisive second independence referendum.
“The Labour Party will never support independence because of the turbo-charged austerity it would inflict on working people in Scotland.”