Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has said she can “understand” why a no-deal Brexit could lead “many” former No voters to back independence.
Ms Dugdale insisted she personally would never back Scotland leaving the UK.
But she said she could “understand and fully respect” why some of those who had voted for Scotland to stay in the Union in 2014 might reconsider their ballot.
The Labour MSP, who had previously said it was “not inconceivable” she would support independence if it would secure Scotland’s status as part of the European Union, acknowledged she had got herself “into a bit of trouble on this issue from time to time”.
She spoke out as the issue of whether Britain leaving the EU without a deal would result in a second vote on Scottish independence was discussed on the BBC’s Question Time programme – which was being broadcast from Holyrood’s debating chamber.
The former Scottish Labour leader said: “I just think it is very desperately sad, the question started with ‘will a no-deal Brexit lead to a second independence referendum, will it change minds?’
“It won’t change my mind, but I understand why it would change so many others, because there is no good Brexit, there is no jobs-first Brexit.”
She added: “People are really worried right now and we have to do everything we can to stop Brexit, that’s what I’m committed to doing, it’s simply got to be done, it is the only way we can protect jobs, the economy, everything I hold dear as a Labour politician.”
Presenter David Dimbleby pressed her on the issue, asking Ms Dugdale if efforts to halt Brexit failed would she then support independence for Scotland.
She stated: “No I wouldn’t. I’ve thought long and hard about this and I’ve got myself into a bit of trouble on this issue from time to time.
“But no, I believe in unions, I believe in unions of people, I believe in unions of nations, I think collectivism is the best way to operate as a country, that’s my belief system.
“But I do understand and fully respect why some people – and I think it is just some people – are reconsidering what they think.”