SCOTTISH Labour have been accused of being unable to stand up for Scotland’s interests after its leader was unable to say that his party would fight to have nuclear weapons taken off Scottish soil.

The SNP said that Anas Sarwar’s comments, made on Thursday morning in an interview on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, show that he takes his marching orders from the UK party leader in London, Keir Starmer.

Sarwar, who became Scottish Labour’s new leader in February, would not confirm that he supported his Scottish party’s current opposition to Trident, which is contrary to the main UK party’s policy.

Speaking just days before Sarwar’s election was announced, UK Labour’s shadow defence secretary John Healey said his party’s “support for the UK’s nuclear deterrent is non-negotiable”.

READ MORE: Greens in pledge to ban Trident before Scottish independence

In 2017, when running against Richard Leonard for the Scottish Labour leadership, Sarwar personally supported Trident renewal.

Asked today about his party’s position on the nuclear deterrent, Sarwar said: “The Labour party in Scotland took a policy position before my time, it was when Kezia Dugdale was leader, that we didn’t support the renewal of Trident, but the UK party takes a different view.”

Asked if people who wanted Trident removed from Scottish soil could vote Labour, Sarwar said they could, but his party would only focus on the policies “that you can actually deliver here in Scotland”.

The SNP said that Sarwar had demonstrated his inability to stand up for the people of Scotland and suggested he was forced to toe Keir Starmer’s line.

The party’s candidate for Glasgow Anniesland, Bill Kidd (below), said: “Anas Sarwar continues to support the Tory plans to renew abhorrent nuclear weapons just because his boss in London Keir Starmer says so.

The National: SNP MSP Bill Kidd

“Scottish Labour are still nothing but a branch office to the UK Labour party and cannot be trusted to stand up for the interests of the people of Scotland. They are just like the Tories, they do not have Scotland’s best interests at heart.

“Anas Sarwar says our full focus should be on recovery, but he is still intent on pouring billions of pounds of money into abhorrent and destructive nuclear weapons on the Clyde – billions that could be spent on education, our health service and our police.

“This only goes to demonstrate that a vote for Labour in this election is a vote for the Tories.

“At this election, the people of Scotland will face a choice, whether to vote for Labour and prop up the Tories and their destructive nuclear weapons or put their future into their own hands with an SNP government led by Nicola Sturgeon, to do that it must be Both Votes SNP.”

The cost of renewing Trident is estimated at £205 billion by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

Historically polling has shown higher support for scrapping nuclear weapons in Scotland than in the rest of the UK.

A YouGov poll in 2018 also found that 47% of Scots believe Holyrood should have the final say on whether nuclear weapons are kept in Scotland. 33% of respondents said this decision should be made at Westminster.

READ MORE: Fury as Boris Johnson to dramatically increase number of nuclear warheads

Sarwar also faced questions about his party’s stance on a second independence referendum.

The Scottish Labour leader stressed that he opposed both independence and allowing the people of Scotland to vote on the issue.

He argued that the current election and next Scottish government should be focused on recovery from the pandemic, saying that people would have another chance to vote on different priorities in 2026.

Sarwar also said that people were voting for an opposition as well as a government, seemingly admitting that the SNP would win the election and return Nicola Sturgeon to the First Minister’s office.

Pressed on this, he said he was being “honest” and that he could not hope to reverse 20 years of Labour decline in Scotland in the ten weeks he will have been leader by election day.