THE SNP have hit back at Gordon Brown after he attacked the Scottish Government over its response to the pandemic.

The former Labour prime minister talked up his own credentials in responding to the 2008 financial crash and accused Nicola Sturgeon of prioritising indyref2 over the Covid crisis.

Economists have warned there could be a spike in unemployment once the furlough scheme ends in September, with employers still struggling under the weight of pandemic recovery.

Brown wrote in the Daily Record: “More than 10 years ago, as the financial crisis ripped apart economies across the world, we faced the same challenge – and a similar choice. We could batten down the hatches and accept a new Great Depression or act with speed. As Scotland emerges from the pandemic, the situation is as serious as it was then – and without action the consequences will be just as dire.”

He adds: “This is no time for our political leaders to hunker down. They must recognise they have no greater duty than setting out measures to tackle this. That means an end to petty politicking. Devolution has given Scotland the power to act. The Covid crisis has handed the Scottish Government extra resources to support our economy and high streets.

"Too often, the SNP prefers to think short term or talk about the powers it doesn’t have. That now must stop. The first rule in any economic crisis is to get ahead of it and stay two steps in front.

"Then, we created the Future Jobs Fund that ensured thousands of young people got their first experience of work. Nicola Sturgeon must do what I think even she knows is right – to put her constitutional argument to one side and focus on the job in front of her.”

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The SNP, however, laid the blame at Brown and Labour’s door for the economic consequences of Tory austerity and Brexit.

SNP depute leader Keith Brown said: "Gordon Brown is the very last person anyone in Scotland should be listening to.

"He told people to vote No in 2014, and that has ensured continued Tory austerity, Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, and Brexit imposed on Scotland against our will – a Brexit which Gordon Brown's Labour party now supports.

"Having the powers of independence is essential to ensuring the sustainable, fair recovery we need to see, and we will offer people that choice in a post-pandemic referendum.”

Brown also praised Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar in his column, hailing the launch of the party's proposed National Recovery Plan.

He wrote: "What we need is concrete and ambitious policy. That's why I am glad this week Scottish Labour is to set out its ideas, in a new National Recovery Plan for jobs.

"Anas Sarwar has a strong sense of what needs to be done. He will set out plans to guarantee work for young people, to increase apprenticeships and to ensure those in work are able to upskill and change jobs to tackle the likely upheaval in the labour market."