Richard Leonard admits he faces a battle to win Jeremy Corbyn’s support for opposing a second independence referendum in Labour’s next general election manifesto.
The Scottish Labour leader told Holyrood journalists he will “fight with every sinew” to ensure the UK party rules out giving consent to Indyref2.
The SNP is ready to prop up a minority Labour government in Westminster in exchange for a Corbyn Prime Minister signing off a new plebiscite.
Mr Leonard said: “I think it is absolutely essential and I will fight every step of the way to make sure that the next Labour manifesto going into the next general election will contain the same commitment that was in the Labour manifesto going into the 2017 general election.
“That is a statement of clear opposition to a second independence referendum.”
In September, Mr Corbyn said he would “decide at the time” what to do if Nicola Sturgeon asked for permission for another poll.
Questioned on his need to “fight with every sinew” to secure Mr Corbyn’s approval, Mr Leonard said: “I will be part of the process that will finalise the manifesto that’s drawn up.
“I think what I am saying is that I am absolutely determined that there will be that commitment.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “The fact Richard Leonard has to fight to secure this says it all.
“It should be taken as read that Labour oppose a second referendum on breaking up Britain.
“But it’s not, and that’s why only the Scottish Conservative can be trusted to stand up to the SNP.”
Speaking to the Scottish Parliamentary Journalists Association, Mr Leonard was asked to respond to claims that Fife MSP Alex Rowley’s return to the Scottish Labour frontbench is a “kick in the guts” to female victims.
A harassment probe by the Labour party into Mr Rowley was dropped a year ago after the alleged victim decided she did not want the former deputy leader to see the details of her claims.
Mr Leonard said: “I don’t think it’s entirely satisfactory. I think I would prefer to see a more independent procedure.”