THE SNP have said they are aiming to woo Labour voters who back a return to the EU, with a warning that Keir Starmer offers no genuine alternative to “Tory economic decline”.

The party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford (below) said there was “clear evidence” Brexit means the UK economic crisis is here to stay.

It comes after a week in which the Bank of England warned the UK is facing its longest recession since records began, as it raised interest rates to 3% – the biggest jump since 1989.

The National: Ian Blackford said Brexit 'means the UK economic crisis is here to stay'Ian Blackford said Brexit 'means the UK economic crisis is here to stay'

Ex-Bank of England governor Mark Carney also said leaving the EU had made the cost of living crisis worse by lowering the value of the pound and contributing to price rises.

However, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has continued to emphasise in recent weeks that his party would not push to reverse Brexit.

In an interview with LBC last month, he said: “It’s a straight no from me, we’re not going back into the EU, that isn’t the position of my party, that isn’t what an incoming Labour government would do.”

The SNP said with a poll showing seven in 10 Labour voters back a return to the EU, they plan to woo Labour voters in Scotland ahead of the next general election and independence referendum.

Blackford said: “The evidence is clear, Brexit means the UK economic crisis is here to stay. It’s the single biggest ongoing threat to our economy and a root cause of the soaring cost of living.

“With Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer sticking their heads in the sand and blindly backing Brexit whatever the cost, independence is the only way for Scotland to regain our place in Europe and avoid the long-term economic decline of Westminster control.

“Neither the Tories nor the Labour Party are being honest with voters about the sustained damage Brexit will continue to do – and neither party can be trusted to solve the cost of living crisis when they are both responsible for the most devastating long-term cause.”

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He added: “By joining the Tories on Brexit, Keir Starmer isn’t offering voters any genuine alternative to Tory economic decline. Seven in 10 Labour voters back a return to the EU, and the SNP will be the party that stands up for them by offering the only route back to Europe – independence.”

Meanwhile, Starmer has said immigration is not the solution to solving the challenges facing the NHS.

The Labour leader has said his party will not support open borders and instead back a “fair”

points-based system.

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show, Starmer was asked about the numbers he would like to reduce immigration to.

He said: “What I would like to see is the numbers go down in some areas.

“I think we are recruiting too many people from overseas in, for example, the health service, but on the other hand, if we need high-skilled people in innovation and tech to set up factories, etc, then I would encourage that, so I don’t think there’s an overall number here, some areas will need to go down, other areas will need to go up.”

The Labour leader was challenged on the workforce crisis facing the NHS, with hospitals struggling to recruit and waiting times reaching record highs.

He responded: “We certainly need to drive those numbers across the whole of the UK, those numbers can go up, and I think they should go up, and we need funded places to drive them up.

“But, of course, one of the reasons that the NHS is struggling is because it’s such hard work. The conditions are so hard because the NHS has been run down.”

He added: “We should be training people in this country, of course, we need some immigration, but we need to train people in this country. What we’ve done – this is absolutely classic of this Tory government – are short-term fixes, plasters over problems, never a long-term solution, and we’re going around and around in circles, every year we have a winter crisis.”

He said record waiting times in Scotland’s hospitals should be pinned on “every billboard across Scotland”.