THE UK is not a “Union of equals” and it was never meant to be, a Labour peer has insisted.

George Foulkes, a former MSP and MP, told the BBC on Wednesday morning that the idea of an equal Union was nothing more than a “myth that has been put around by the SNP”.

The Labour lord has been criticised by top SNP figures, with First Minister Humza Yousaf stating he had said “the quiet bit out loud”.

The comments were made during an interview with Good Morning Scotland, where Foulkes was appearing to talk about the possibility of the UK Government outlining “sanctions” that could be imposed on devolved administrations for working in reserved areas.

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Foulkes was asked if it is right that unelected peers in the House of Lords could support sanctioning the elected Scottish Government.

The Labour peer replied: “Yes, they will go on about the unelected House of Lords but it is part of our constitution and actually … I’m campaigning to replace it with a senate of the nations and regions. But meanwhile it is part of our constitution.

“The SNP like us when we overrule the Tory government, recently on the Illegal Immigration Bill, they say oh we’re doing a grand job. Well, they can’t have it both ways.”

BBC host Gary Robertson then asked Foulkes if the UK was a “Union of equal partners”.

Foulkes replied: “No, it was never meant to be a Union of equal partners. That is a myth that has been put around by the SNP.

“We each have our own responsibilities. As you know, I was a member of the Scottish Parliament as well as a member of the House of Commons, and in each of them I took part in what was their responsibilities at that time.

“We each have our own responsibilities but they’re different. To call them equal is not the right word, they’re different. They have different responsibilities.”

Responding to the comments on social media, the First Minister said: “Scottish Labour's Lord Foulkes saying the quiet bit out loud. He rubbishes the suggestion that Scotland is part of a union of equals.

“Scotland is seen as secondary, an afterthought by Westminster.

“Independence, being equal to any other independent nation, is perfectly normal.”

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And prominent SNP MP Joanna Cherry KC wrote: “George Foulkes all over the place on #GMS. Very confused about difference between 300-year-old Union between Scotland and England and modern devolved settlement.

“Tells us the Union was ‘never meant to be a Union of equals’. Is that the official Labour position?”

Scottish Labour has been asked for comment.

The comments come after Foulkes has made several headlines over recent weeks for his questioning of top UK Government figures on what actions they are taking to prevent the Scottish Government spending on independence.

As the constitution is reserved to Westminster, Foulkes has argued for UK officials to probe any spending from the Scottish Government on this issue.

Simon Case, the UK's most senior civil servant, told Foulkes earlier in the month that work looking at devolved administrations' spending in reserved areas was ongoing.

And Tory peer and Cabinet Office minister Lucy Neville-Rolfe told Foulkes on Monday that the UK Government would consider what "sanctions" could be imposed on devolved administrations for any breaches.