Anas Sarwar says Keir Starmer will put co-operation over conflict to work with John Swinney

Sir Keir Starmer will prioritise “co-operation over conflict” in working with John Swinney, the Scottish Labour leader has said as he eyes future Holyrood success. Anas Sarwar said the Prime Minister “understands and cares for” Scotland and will work in the “national interest” with Scotland’s First Minister.

Mr Swinney discussed “areas of mutual interest” in a Friday night phone call with Sir Keir, where he congratulated the new Prime Minister. It comes as Mr Swinney’s SNP suffered a loss of 38 seats so far, with the Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire seat still to be declared.

However, it is understood Drew Hendry, the SNP politician seeking re-election has already conceded to the Liberal Democrats as a recount continues. Labour won 37 seats in Scotland after struggling electorally in the country in previous general elections.

Speaking in Clarkston where he celebrated the success of new East Renfrewshire MP Blair McDougall, the Scottish Labour leader said his party was now looking at “stage two” of its rebuild which would focus on the 2026 Scottish Parliament elections.

Asked if Sir Keir would work with Mr Swinney, Mr Sarwar said: “We’ve seen for far too long conflict over co-operation and ultimately it is the people of Scotland that have missed out. We will always act in the national interest, we will always work together, where we can, to deliver for the Scottish people.

“But let’s be really clear – we’re not talking about a (Scottish) Government that is new in Scotland. This is an SNP Government that has been in charge for 17 years. Yes we’ll work together in the national interest to deliver for the people of Scotland but I have always been clear that this is just stage one of the change, stage two comes in 2026.”

Mr Sarwar then reiterated his intentions for government in Scotland, stating: “I am not in this to be an opposition politician.”

The Prime Minister is expected to meet with Mr Swinney in the coming days during his first trip to Scotland since winning the election. Mr Sarwar also spoke to activists in East Renfrewshire on Saturday where he spoke of the “delight” at Mr McDougall’s election.

He told them: “What we achieved on Thursday night was simply historic. We now have a duty to go out there to all of the people that supported us, and indeed those who thought about supporting us but ultimately didn’t, and say thank you for putting your trust in Scottish Labour and we do not take that trust lightly.

“We will get to work straight away to make sure a UK Labour Government is working for Scotland, and we also get to work straight away to redouble our efforts to advocate what the change will be in 2026, because yes I want Scottish Labour to play its full part in delivering a UK Labour Government, not to be a drag in the ticket, but to be a gateway to that Government.

“But I also will not stop until we actually in 2026 elect a Scottish Labour government.”

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