Jeremy Corbyn has ruled out holding a referendum on Scottish independence in the first term of a Labour government, even if the SNP wins the majority of Scotland’s 59 General Election seats.
But the Labour leader’s aides later backtracked to say the position could change if Nicola Sturgeon’s party wins control of Holyrood in the 2021 Scottish parliament election.
Mr Corbyn kicked off a two-day tour of Scotland in Glasgow on Tuesday aiming to help his party retake some of the seats it lost to the SNP landslide in the 2015 general election.
Although Labour made a slight recovery in the 2017 ballot, the SNP still had 35 of the 59 Scottish constituencies in the last parliament.
In an interview likely to rile Ms Sturgeon, Mr Corbyn said: “No referendum in the first term for a Labour government because I think we need to concentrate completely in investment across Scotland.”
But pressed on whether it would be undemocratic to deny the referendum if the SNP again won the majority of Scottish seats in the December 12 vote, the Labour leader said: “If the SNP win the majority of seats that’s the election of those MPs.
“I’m very clear that a Labour government’s priority is investment in Scotland.”
Labour advisers later dialled back on Mr Corbyn’s statement to make it clear that the party’s position could change if the SNP wins the 2021 Holyrood election.