KEIR Starmer is today visiting Scotland for the first time since being elected Labour Party leader, and just days after insisting a new independence referendum isn’t needed.

Despite about 40% of Labour voters backing Yes according to the latest polls, Starmer appears to be pushing ahead with his advisers’ calls to make the party the “voice of the Union”.

Writing for The Scotsman before his trip today, Starmer warned he is concerned that during the virus crisis the UK’s nations have each taken action in distinct ways.

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Calling on the Scottish and UK governments to “get a grip, focus on the job in hand and work together to defeat this virus”, he adds: “I continue to believe that a four-nations approach is the best response to the health and economic crises we face.

“At this crucial time, we cannot have a situation where the four nations of the UK are pulling in different directions.”

During the initial stages of the pandemic the four nations were more closely aligned in terms of restrictions – but in May England decided to take steps to ease lockdown and its Covid-19 messaging before the other nations.

Since then Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have implemented their own systems more readily, which is exactly what devolution was created for.

But in his column Starmer says his party created devolution so decisions “could be made closer to the people” – adding that for that to happen governments must work “in partnership”.

Starmer also writes: “In the middle of a global pandemic, the Tories are still banging on about Brexit and the SNP, by their own admission, are still prioritising independence.”

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His comment came just one day on from the launch of his new Facebook ad campaign, which shows a Union flag backdrop and the words: “Labour says: Get the Brexit deal done”.

His visit to Scotland comes after a difficult few weeks for Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard. A handful of MSPs publicly called for him to go, before a no-confidence vote was planned.

Leonard survived the vote but Scottish Labour looks set to lose MSPs at next year’s vote, with some surveys putting them as low as 14%.