THE Scottish Government has taken a swipe at Labour and the Welsh Government’s record on poverty in a row over the UK’s cost of living crisis. 

Labour leader Keir Starmer visited Glasgow today, with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, to discuss soaring energy bills and the impending National Insurance increase which led to a spat with the SNP government. 

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s spokesman accused the pair of being “silent” on the need for action on poverty in Wales. 

The remarks appear to have been made after the Labour pair again sought to downplay the SNP’s arguments for independence. 

During the visit Starmer echoed criticisms made by first minister Mark Drakeford earlier this month that the UK Government has been “paralysed” over rows surrounding Boris Johnson. 

The leader of the opposition said he wanted to see the Sue Gray report, into the events in Downing Street and Whitehall, published and the police inquiry concluded as soon as possible. 

He said: “We’re in this situation where the whole of Government is paralysed because the police are looking at what the prime minister was getting up to in Downing Street. 

“On the one hand, you’ve got people really worried about their bills and you’ve got these investigations going on into what the prime minister was up to. 

“He has paralysed the government so the sooner we get both the full report and the investigation completed, the better.” 

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When asked if Johnson is increasing support for Scottish independence the Labour leader sought to avoid the question that has been seen as a central cause in the collapse of the party’s support in the former stronghold by saying he didn’t want to reopen “old arguments”. 

But he did say: “The more that anybody sees Boris Johnson, the more they’re frustrated at the fact that, through his misbehaviour, we now have a civil service investigation and a criminal investigation into our prime minister and into what went on in Downing Street. 

“That the whole of Government is paralysed and not focused on the things that in Scotland most people here are talking about: the cost of living, the price hikes, the energy price hikes, their bills are going up, they’re really worried about inflation and they know that the Government’s about to whack them with more tax – their focus is completely wrong.” 

He added: “Scottish Labour is making a very, very powerful argument as we come out of this pandemic. 

“We’ve been through something the likes of which we’ve never seen before and what we, in the Labour Party, say is, ‘let’s harness that, let’s rebuild and reform as we come out of this’. 

“Let’s not just go back to reopening the old arguments and old divisions.” 

“That’s a very powerful case for Scotland and a very powerful case for the union.” 

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Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, said: “Every day he (Johnson) sits in that chair he degrades the office of prime minister. 

“The United Kingdom, frankly, deserves better than that charlatan. 

“But the the key point to make here is we have a choice – we can either choose to continue to oppose the Tories or we can replace the Tories and only Labour can do that and we’re going to make that case over the coming weeks and months.” 

But in response Sturgeon’s spokesman said only independence could deliver the Scottish Government sufficient powers to address poverty. 

The spokesman then highlighted how the Labour duo want those powers to remain with Westminster and accused the party of being silent on the need to address poverty in Wales. 

The spokesman, claimed the Scottish Government is doing more than any other UK administration to tackle poverty, and said: “With the full powers over welfare, energy and the economy that come with independence, we could go much further. 

“But Keir Starmer and Anas Sarwar want those powers to stay at Westminster – while also remaining silent on the need for action in Wales, where poverty rates are higher than Scotland and where Labour are in government.” 

The spokesman also criticised Scottish Labour which he said hadn’t voted in a Scottish Parliament debate this week on the cost of living crisis. 

Additional reporting: Tom Eden, PA Scotland

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