ANAS Sarwar has been criticised for vowing to stand up to Keir Starmer if the UK Labour leader does not make decisions in Scotland’s interests as prime minister.

The Scottish Labour leader told the Daily Record that he would challenge his boss on decisions he disagreed with.

But, many on social media, including SNP MPs, pointed out that this appeared to suggest Sarwar was admitting that Starmer as prime minister would not work in the best interests of Scotland.

It comes as the Scottish Labour party is holding its annual conference at the SEC in Glasgow.

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Ahead of the event, Sarwar was asked if he would challenge Starmer on decisions he disagreed with.

“The simple answer to that is yes,” Sarwar said.

“Anybody that thinks any political leader gets everything right doesn't understand the history of politics.”

He went on to say he took a different view from the UK Labour leader on supporting frontline workers on the picket line, a ceasefire in Gaza, and the two-child benefit cap.

“I suppose the difference is with my relationship with Keir is we have a mutual respect,” he added.

“We have a mutual friendship. We have a shared political route to power and we have a shared desire to not just change the Labour Party but also change our country.”

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However, Sarwar said in a separate interview that differences between himself and Starmer over a ceasefire in Gaza were “semantics”.

First Minister Humza Yousaf blasted: "Here is what standing up to Starmer looks like so far: Sarwar now agrees with Starmer's position on retaining the two-child limit. Sarwar agrees with Starmer on lifting the cap on bankers' bonuses.

"Sarwar agrees with Starmer on dumping £28bn a year Green Prosperity Fund."

Elsewhere, SNP MP Alison Thewliss said it was an "astonishing own goal" from Sarwar and suggested Starmer "can't be trusted". 

"By suggesting this, Sarwar has made the case for electing a strong team of SNP MPs to stand up for Scotland's values and defend our democratic right to choose our future," she said. 

"The fact is Sir Keir Starmer's Tory-lite policies aren't in Scotland's interests. They would destroy thousands of Scottish jobs, damage our economy and harm the NHS. 

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"Starmer admits he would impose a hard Brexit, follow Tory fiscal rules, cut public services, keep Tory welfare cuts, and impose creeping privatisation on the NHS. He's ruled out further devolution, and wants to use Scotland's energy wealth to fund nuclear plants in other parts of the UK - all while denying Scotland's democratic right to choose our future.

"That also begs the question of why Anas Sarwar is not already standing up to Keir Starmer - since he is acting against Scotland's interests?

"It shows why voting SNP is vital to stand up for Scotland's values and right to choose."

The Scottish Labour leader’s comments were also mocked widely on social media.

SNP Westminster Stephen Flynn said: “I used to think I could stand up to my parents too.”

Gavin Newlands, Paisley and Renfrewshire North SNP MP, said: “I would love to take Anas at his word, but all evidence thus far shows that when he starts with a different position, he somehow ends up changing to match his London boss.

The National: Stephen Flynn

“Also, what's wrong with Keir that he feels he needs to stand up to?”

Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill SNP MP Stephen Bonnar added: “What’s the point of Scottish Labour MPs who will be slapped down on the regular just like Sarwar himself.

“#VoteSNP to stand up for Scotland at Westminster.”

Joanna Cherry, SNP MP Edinburgh South West, added: “An interview in which Anas Sarwar makes no specific offering for Scotland other than being hopeful of securing flexibility ... on immigration.

"Sounds like a supplicant & not someone coming from a position of strength.”

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East Dunbartonshire SNP councillor Ian Gallagher said: “Evidence suggests @ScottishLabour will do what they're told by Sir Keir of the U-turn. Every time they've had a chance to stand up for Scotland, Labour always fail to do it.”

Social media users were also quick to jump on the comments.

“Vote for us to stand against us! Isn’t really the line I would ever vote for,” one said.

Another added: “So is Sarwar admitting Starmer wouldn't act in Scotland's interests?”

One asked: “If Anas would need to ‘stand up to Starmer’ to ‘defend Scotland’ doesn’t it suggest Starmer isn’t going to have Scotland's interests at heart?”

The National: Anas Sarwar

On Friday morning, Sarwar told BBC Good Morning Scotland that there “wasn’t much distance” between his calls for a ceasefire in Gaza and Starmer’s support for “humanitarian pauses”.

He said they both want violence to stop “right now” – along with the delivery of humanitarian aid, the release of Israeli hostages held in Gaza, and a pathway to a two-state solution.

Sarwar also said “open conversations” are happening with Labour’s two Scottish MPs, Ian Murray and Michael Shanks, as the SNP pushes for a vote on a ceasefire in Westminster next week.

He said: “We shouldn’t be stuck on the semantics because this is a really important issue of life and death for people right now in Gaza and in Israel.

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“The idea that this is about the semantics within one political party that’s in opposition …”

Pressed on why Starmer had not used the phrase “immediate ceasefire”, Sarwar said: “Keir Starmer has said ‘the immediate end to fighting’, which means a sustainable ceasefire.

“I am perfectly relaxed and happy to say we need an immediate ceasefire and I have been saying so for weeks and weeks on end.”