SIR Keir Starmer has said Nicola Sturgeon has handled the pandemic no better than Boris Johnson as he launched an attack on what he described as her “appalling” record in power.

The Labour leader, who wants his party to win back support they have lost to the SNP, pointed to Covid deaths in both Scotland and England to argue the overall performance of the two leaders had been similar.

“I think Nicola Sturgeon’s ­handling of the pandemic hasn’t been – if you look at the relevant numbers – it has not been better than ­Johnson’s,” Starmer told Scottish political ­journalists at a question and answer session in London.

“She may have communicated differently but when you look at it, whether it is on the number of deaths, proportion of deaths and inequalities that have been exposed by it, or the Test and Protect has been a failure in much the same way as Track and Trace.”

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The SNP hit back and pointed to their victory at the Holyrood election in May when the party won a record fourth term in government.

According to the National Records of Scotland (NRS), 11,406 people have died in Scotland with confirmed or suspected coronavirus.

In England, 140,584 people have died with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 deaths, according to The ­Office of National Statistics. The population of England is just over 10 times that of Scotland.

The Republic of Ireland, with a similar size of population to Scotland of just over five million, has recorded 5369 Covid deaths to date.

During the briefing with reporters Starmer said the First Minister had used constitutional politics to mask her record on the NHS, education and on child poverty.

The National: Sir Keir Starmer

“I think she has long hidden ­behind the constitutional issue to mask the failures of her government. In ­education, Scotland used to be a real leader, and now it isn’t,” he said.

“In health, the idea you’ve still got the Army dealing with ambulances is clear evidence of failure.

“Child poverty – again, going in the wrong direction. Nobody can dress this up as success. It isn’t success.”

He added: “I think that she has failed the test she set herself, which is to be judged on her record. Her ­record is appalling, and she should be judged on it.”

The First Minister has said she may make mistakes and suggested she ­regretted not going into ­lockdown earlier when the pandemic first struck.

An SNP spokesperson said: “Once again, Keir Starmer shows how little he actually knows about anything going on in Scotland. The people of Scotland had their say on our ­record in government – and our ambitious plans to lead Scotland through the pandemic and into a sustainable ­recovery – in May’s election. The SNP recorded its highest ever share of the constituency vote, while ­Labour slumped to its worst ever result.

“If Keir Starmer wants to know what poor leadership looks like, ­maybe he should reflect on the fact that ­despite being in ­opposition to the most ­shambolic, callous, ­crony-infested Westminster ­government in living memory, he is still trailing Boris ­Johnson’s Tories in the opinion polls.

“The Labour Party continue to ­allow the people of Scotland to be controlled by Westminster and by a Tory party it did not vote for – and until they recognise the democratic right of the people of Scotland to choose their own future then Labour will continue to slip into the abyss.”