Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has suggested his party would not sanction a second independence referendum “in the early years of a Labour government”.
McDonnell previously said he would not support Parliament blocking a fresh independence vote – a statement which caused a rift with Scottish Labour.
But despite repeating that view, the shadow chancellor said allowing a new independence referendum would “not be a priority for us” and that it would require a “proper mandate in Scotland”.
The Labour MP’s stance clashes with Nicola Sturgeon’s, who is planning an independence poll for the latter half of 2020.
The First Minister insists she obtained a mandate to hold a referendum in 2016, when the SNP won re-election as a minority government at Holyrood with a pledge to hold indyref2 if Scotland was forced out of the EU against its wishes.
The shadow chancellor also ruled out any deals with the SNP to prop up a potential Labour minority government in exchange for allowing a new independence vote.
At the Edinburgh Fringe in August, he was criticised by many in Scottish Labour for contradicting the party’s policy against allowing a referendum.
McDonnell said it should be “up to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish people” to decide if a vote should be held, and therefore he would not support blocking a request for Section 30 powers from Scottish ministers to conduct a referendum.
Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, the shadow chancellor restated that view but added: “That’s not a deal, that’s my personal view I’ve expressed.
“That’s not doing a deal, that’s my position, but we’re not doing deals with anyone.
“When we go into the next election, I believe we will have a majority, but if we are in a minority, we will be a minority government, we won’t do coalitions, we will expect (other parties) to support the party.
“If we’re in a minority position, we’ll form a government and the other opposition parties can vote for the policies we’re advocating and if they don’t, we’ll go back to the people.”
He continued: “I don’t think it’s up to the UK Parliament to block a referendum.
“I don’t think there should be another referendum, I think Scotland should stay united within the United Kingdom.
“It would not be a priority for us, we’ve got enough to deal with, with climate change, austerity, et cetera.
“Certainly it wouldn’t be in the early years of a Labour government and there would have to be a proper mandate in Scotland – the Scottish people themselves would have to decide.”