THE new leader of Scottish Labour has said that an independence referendum is not a priority for Scots outside a “Twitter bubble”.

Anas Sarwar, who was announced as the party’s new leader over the weekend, also said he did not believe people should not “obsess about constitutional politics”.

Speaking on Good Morning Scotland (GMS), Sarwar was asked why many people who would historically vote Labour but now vote SNP should switch back, given that “many of them want an independence referendum”.

Sarwar has previously said that while independence “is absolutely for Scotland to decide”, he does not back a referendum in the next parliamentary term.

The BBC host suggested this meant pro-independence, past Labour voters would not support Sarwar’s party as there is “nothing in it for them”.

READ MORE: Kirsty Strickland: It is in Anas Sarwar’s interests to make Scottish Labour pro-indyref2

Pressed on the referendum question, Sarwar said he did not believe it was a priority of the ordinary voter.

He said: “I don’t think that the people who are sitting at home listening to your show, I think they live beyond the Twitter bubble.

“I don’t think that people are sitting at home right now worried about the date of a referendum campaign.

“I think what people are worried about is keeping their loved ones safe, when are they going to get a vaccine. I think they’re worried about their child’s education and mental health. They’re worried about if and when they’ll return back to work … These are the big issues I think people are worried about right now. I think people would recognise that, coming through Covid the idea we go back to the old divisions, the old arguments, we obsess about constitutional politics or a referendum, and instead don’t focus on rebuilding our country."

He added that voters "whether you’re Yes whether you’re No", should focus on rebuilding Scotland instead of independence.

Sarwar’s assertions come after the latest Ipsos MORI poll found that the constitutional question is seen as the most important issue in the upcoming Holyrood election by supporters of all three of Scotland’s biggest political parties.

Respondents were asked: "Looking ahead to the Scottish Parliamentary election, which, if any, issues do you think will be very important to you in helping you decide which party to vote for?"

A total of 51% of Tory voters cited independence or devolution, while 48% of SNP supporters and 39% of Labour ones said the same.

Overall, 44% of people said the constitutional question was key to their vote. This was followed by education (32%), healthcare/ NHS (25%), and then the coronavirus (20%).

READ MORE: Stephen Paton: The argument to stay in the Union and work to elect Labour is now dead

The data set noted that these were "spontaneous, top-of-mind responses", meaning people were not prompted or given options when asked for the key issues in their eyes.

Sarwar, a Glasgow list MSP, was announced as Scottish Labour’s tenth leader since devolution on February 27. He took a total of 57.6% of the vote, while rival Monica Lennon got 42.4%.

Lennon took a slight majority over Sarwar among affiliated voters, but Labour members overwhelmingly backed him.

Sarwar cited polling as the reason he was “not naive” about Labour’s prospects in May’s Holyrood election, saying they cannot hope to do better than become the largest opposition party.

He said his long-term hope was to make the party “credible opposition and then build … to be a credible alternative over the five years that follow”.

The SNP responded to Sarwar's comments about independence in a statement, saying: “The Labour party is fast running out of time to put forward any credible policies ahead of the Scottish Parliament election - in stark contrast to the SNP, which will continue delivering bold, ambitious, and progressive policies in government to improve the lives of people across Scotland.

“And for as long as Labour’s dismissive attitude towards independence – and towards Scotland’s right to decide its own future – continues, they have no chance of rejuvenating a party which has already lost nearly all credibility in the eyes of the Scottish people.

“Scotland’s future must be in Scotland’s hands - not Boris Johnson’s. The sooner Labour realises that, the better."