Mr Leonard, who has lived in Scotland for more than three decades, used an interview with the Scotland on Sundayto reiterate his support for a more federal UK but added he would not “repeat the mistake” of allowing the party to become “bogged down” in constitutional issues, which he believes cost it support north of the Border at the 2017 general election.
But one Twitter account claimed yesterday: “How did it ever come about that a Yorkshire man has told the Scottish nation he will block them from deciding who should run their country”.
The message, shared more than 200 times, was posted by a self-proclaimed “Scottish independent voter” but attracted a backlash from a number of senior SNP figures.
Glasgow South MP Stewart McDonald, the party’s defence spokesman, responded: “I disagree with Richard Leonard on the constitution and much else, but he’s elected to Scotland’s Parliament and has as much right as any other MSP to put forward his view on how Scotland should be governed. His place of birth isn’t a prerequisite to that right. Mind-numbing stuff.”
Former East Dunbartonshire MP John Nicolson added: “It’s utterly irrelevant where Mr Leonard was born. He’s Scottish. Let’s debate policy and performance.”