STEPHEN Flynn has hit back at Keir Starmer after the Labour leader took aim at the SNP in his new year’s speech.

Kicking off what is expected to be a General Election year, Starmer said in a speech delivered in Bristol that after removing the Conservative government the UK could experience “a collective breathing out. A burden lifted”.

Starmer said that people were tired of “populism, or nationalism, any politics fuelled by division”, going on: “The energy needed for divisive politics is a distraction. You can see that with the SNP in Scotland or the Tories here in England.”

But hitting back, the SNP Westminster leader said Starmer’s comments would go down like a “bag of sick” in Scotland.

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Flynn said: “Comparing the views of 50% of Scots to the sort of populism promoted by Donald Trump will go down like a bag of sick in Scotland.

“Scottish independence is rooted in membership of the European Union, increasing migration to both protect our NHS and boost the economy, and capitalising on our natural resources to ensure Scots are no longer fuel poor in an energy rich land.

“Sir Keir would do well to remember that he too once believed in such things, the only change he represents is a departure from the values that we still hold dear.”

Flynn (below) added: “A vote for the SNP in this election is a vote to stand up for Scotland in the face of a broken Westminster system that is hammering household incomes and making Scots poorer. That cycle will only be broken for good with independence.”

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Starmer’s U-turns were also highlighted by the Tories ahead of his speech, with Conservative chair Richard Holden insisting the Labour leader was a true populist.

“Nothing is more cynical and populist than a weathervane Labour leader who has a consistent track record of telling people whatever he thinks they want to hear on any given day,” Holden said.

“He was for a second Brexit referendum, then he wasn’t. He told Labour members when he was running to be leader he would nationalise industry and scrap tuition fees, but then dropped these policies as soon as the contest was over.”

Elsewhere during his appearance in Bristol, Starmer reiterated that a Labour government would focus on growing the economy before anything else.

He further conceded Labour’s planned £28 billion-a-year green energy investment could shrink depending on economic conditions.