ANAS Sarwar has claimed Labour will not use a General Election as an “endorsement for the Union” after repeatedly being pressed on his stance during a BBC interview.

The Scottish Labour leader was asked to set out his stall to Yes supporters on why they should support his party when he is against an independence referendum, and argued there is an opportunity for “change”.

However, he was reluctant to say that debate around Scottish independence would completely fall off the agenda if UK Labour leader Keir Starmer becomes the next prime minister, as he urged Yessers to back his party at the election.

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It comes after SNP MP Tommy Sheppard argued that focus on Scottish independence would wither if his party failed to win the next Westminster election in Scotland.

It was put to Sarwar that if Scottish Labour were successful in winning over a large number of voters who previously backed SNP, the issue of independence could become similar to the “red wall” for the Tories, where they would risk losing votes if they didn’t address the constitutional issues.

Journalist Martin Geissler asked: “Are you saying you definitely won't in any way use a big Labour win as an endorsement of the Union?”

Sarwar replied: “Well, we are not supporting a referendum and we are not supporting independence but we are supporting fundamental change for our country.”

The National:

Geissler added that Sarwar had dodged the question and asked again: “Will you say at any point look at our vote, we’re the Unionist party, the argument’s dead?”

Sarwar said: “No, because I want to persuade people that we can make Scotland work within a devolved settlement, with having a UK Government that’s working with the interests of Scotland, but also changing a Scottish Government too.”

The Scottish Labour leader then claimed that the “missing” element of the SNP’s argument is that they had not addressed they are “haemorrhaging supporters” because of their “woeful record” in government.

Earlier, Sarwar had described the SNP’s claims on a vote for Labour equating to a vote for the Union as “completely chaotic messaging”.

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“They seem to have gone in a matter of weeks from saying you don't need to vote Labour because they can't win in England to now saying you don't need to vote for Labour because they can't lose in England,” he told the programme.

Sarwar also described Sheppard’s comments as a “strange argument”.

Geissler pointed out that it was “really important” to those who support Scottish independence.

“Is he right? If you win this election, they lose it, is the argument dead?” Geissler asked.

Sarwar replied: “I don’t think so because I think there is still a raging debate in the country around the constitution.

“But that is not what this General Election is going to be about, I've been really clear that I’m not going to turn my back, close my eyes or shut my ears to any voter in the country, whether they voted yes or no, or even if they voted for any other political party in the past.”

He added: “I’m not hiding it, to people that may not have voted Labour in the past, who may be sympathetic to independence, I don’t support independence, I don’t support a referendum, but I accept we need change right now.”

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross was also asked about Sheppard’s comments on the Sunday Show, and if he “prays that doesn’t happen” because it also benefits his party.

“No, I spend every night praying that we can move on from the stagnation we’ve had in Scottish politics because it’s been dominated by independence,” he said.