Richard Leonard has refused to confirm whether Labour would campaign for or against Brexit in any potential general election.
In a speech on Thursday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for a general election “at the earliest opportunity” to “break the deadlock” over Brexit.
Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Friday, Mr Leonard, the Scottish Labour leader, was asked directly about what the party’s stance would be if a general election was to be called.
Mr Leonard said: “It’s not a matter of campaigning for or against Brexit.
“There has been a referendum in which people overall decided that we should leave the European Union and I have said repeatedly that I think the job of elected politicians is to look at the best way of extracting the best deal under those circumstances.
“Our policy on Brexit so far has been to try to secure the best deal. The manifesto of the Labour Party will be decided by the Labour Party and we’ve got a process for determining that.
“My view is that we had a referendum in 2016, our job has been to try to get the best deal.”
The deal proposed by Prime Minister Theresa May is due to be put forward in Parliament next week, although it is not expected to receive enough support to pass.
Mr Leonard said that the plans do not meet Labour’s requirements, including creating a customs union arrangement, a close relationship with the single market and provisions to protect rights for workers and the environment.
Responding to comments made by Labour MP Ian Murray, who has campaigned for a People’s Vote, Mr Leonard acknowledged a “range of views” within the party.
He said: “It’s evident that there are a range of views inside the Labour Party about what our stance should be and there are people, like Ian Murray, who are absolutely clear that we should be arguing and that we should be standing on a platform which is to reverse the decision of the referendum.”
SNP deputy leader Keith Brown described Labour’s position on Brexit as “laughable”.
He said: “Labour have proved that they are gearing up, once again, to sell-out the people of Scotland – this time on Brexit. Their members must be in despair.
“Demanding a general election without a position on the biggest political issue of the day is the height of incompetence. In fact, it’s laughable.
“Richard Leonard’s inability to give a straight answer simply suggests that at heart, like his boss at Westminster, he’s a signed up Brexiteer.
“He has completely failed in his attempts to try and salvage the Labour Party in Scotland. The polls are clear – Labour will not be forgiven for siding with the Tories in their plans to devastate the Scottish economy through crashing out of the EU.”
Catherine Stihler, Labour MEP for Scotland, said that if the party does not oppose Brexit, it would be failing the communities its represents.
“If a general election is called, it is absolutely vital that Labour stands on a platform to oppose Brexit,” Ms Stihler said.
“It would be calamitous if both the Tories and Labour went into that election promising to facilitate Brexit, particularly in Scotland.
“The Labour Party exists to stand up for the poorest in society, who will suffer the most as a result of a Brexit that will decimate our economy. If we fail to oppose Brexit, we will be failing the communities we represent.”
Scottish Conservative MP Stephen Kerr said: “This car crash interview makes clear once again the utter disarray of Labour’s position on Brexit.
“Richard Leonard wants a general election but cannot confirm if it would be pro or anti-Brexit. It’s pathetic.
“It shows a complete lack of leadership from a weak party that simply cannot stand up to the SNP in Scotland.”