LABOUR leader Sir Keir Starmer has agreed with his Scottish counterpart Anas Sarwar that Vladimir Putin would back independence.

Starmer said he felt the Scottish Labour leader “put it very well” when he suggested at an event in London on Monday that the Russian leader would welcome Scotland leaving the UK.

Sarwar claimed it was “pretty obvious” that Putin would be happy with Nicola Sturgeon’s renewed campaign for independence as he wants to “destabilise the UK”.

Starmer echoed his remarks and insisted Putin wants to “sow division” amongst all of those standing with Ukraine.

He said: “I thought Anas put it very well and I don’t think I can improve on that.

“What Putin wants is to sow division amongst all of those that are opposed to his aggression in Ukraine.

“That is the position across the whole of Europe, across all of the allied countries that are supporting Ukraine. He wants those countries to be divided and he wants the political parties to be divided within those countries.

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“Whatever other disagreements I have with Boris Johnson and the Government, on the question of standing with Ukraine and standing up to Putin, we stand as one.

“Anas was responding to a question specifically about Scotland but I’d make a bigger point about this in terms of the unity we need in response to Russian aggression. That situation in Ukraine has shown why those alliances are so important and why in a time where we are facing down Russian aggression we need to stand together as the UK and as political parties across the UK.”

Starmer has also agreed with Sarwar that Labour would not form any alliance with the SNP in the event of a hung parliament at the next General Election as he reiterated his opposition to any second independence referendum.

He said a “divisive” second vote would not help to grow the economy which is what he claimed would be the main focus of a Labour government.

He added: “There is no alliance to be forged with a party that wants to break up the UK.

“I want to be the Prime Minister for the whole of the United Kingdom so my contract will be with the Scottish people but there is no basis for an alliance with the SNP.

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“It’s not going to happen [a deal with the SNP]. No deal in, no deal out.

When asked if he would ever grant a Section 30 order to allow Scotland to hold a referendum, Starmer said: “The priority has to be the rebuilding of the UK and the rebuilding of Scotland.”

“We’ve come through Covid, we’ve got a stagnant economy across the UK and we’ve got to grow that economy. The central driving mission of an incoming Labour government will be to grow the economy across the whole UK, and therefore my answer on this is that a divisive referendum is no way to grow the economy and no way to take the UK forward.”