TWO Labour MSPs have reportedly rejected their own party’s policy of blocking all new North Sea oil and gas developments.

Last week, Labour leader Keir Starmer confirmed that he would put an end to fresh North Sea projects if he becomes prime minister.

However, despite Anas Sarwar’s Scottish Labour backing the plans just a few days ago, two senior MSPs within the party – Pauline McNeill and Michael Marra – have now raised concerns about the policy.

According to the Daily Record, McNeill and Marra expressed opposition to the policy during a private group meeting after the GMB trade union – of which both MSPs are members – said it could threaten thousands of jobs in the northeast of Scotland.

A party insider told the newspaper: ““We can’t afford to be out of touch with communities in the North East of Scotland, or playing reckless games with 70,000 jobs.

“Until there is a credible pathway to net zero, we will rely on current levels of production for decades to come. That’s the reality Keir Starmer and Ed Miliband must understand if they are serious about Scotland.”

The policy is being laid at the door of former Labour leader Ed Miliband who serves as the party’s Shadow Secretary of State for Climate Change and Net Zero.

It comes after Scottish Government minister Mairi McAllan said it would be “wrong” to stop “all future activity” in the North Sea.

SNP MSP Gillian Martin has also expressed concern about Labour’s proposal, saying they lack “nuance” and were “too simplistic”.

The Scottish Government’s draft Energy Strategy published in January announced that it was consulting on whether there should be a presumption against granting any new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea.

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However, the party’s reaction to Starmer’s policy may show that not all within the SNP support such a move.

Indeed, SNP MSP Jackie Dunbar said that Starmer’s plans would “endanger” Scotland’s energy security.

"In order to meet Scotland's ambitious climate obligations we can’t continue with the unlimited extraction of fossil fuels, but that must not come at the cost of our highly talented and committed energy workforce, nor our energy security,” she said.

"Labour’s plan to switch off the taps now would endanger both of those things, while threatening to destroy the very skills we need to make the Just Transition which is necessary to protect the future of the planet.

"Keir Starmer’s approach to oil and gas seems to be to follow the lead set by Margaret Thatcher’s decimation of Scottish coal and steel industries in the 1980s. Unlike Labour the SNP will stand up for jobs in energy and ensure that Scotland can reap the benefits of that energy transition"

But climate group Friends of the Earth Scotland says that the Scottish Government cannot be permitted to “back-slide” on its commitment to phase out oil and gas extraction.

Mary Church, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Scotland is literally burning, with what may be the UK's biggest wildfire on record, and yet the Scottish Government appears to be back-sliding on its commitment to phasing out oil and gas to protect the climate.

“In November last year, Màiri McAllan said the Government didn't agree with the UK handing out new oil and gas licences. In the intervening months the climate crisis has only got worse with more extreme weather and ever greater human cost, yet now the Cabinet Secretary seems to be talking up future activity in the North Sea.

“Every new barrel of oil worsens the crisis and fuels the fire whilst taking us further away from a fair and fast transition to renewable energy. Standing up to greedy oil companies and setting an end date for oil and gas extraction this decade is an essential part of planning for a just transition for workers and communities currently dependent on the industry.

“It will provide certainty for the sector, making it clear that investing in renewables is the only choice for our energy future, and enabling workforce planning.”