ANGELA Rayner has “unwittingly made the case for independence”, the SNP have said after the Labour depute leader lamented how the UK Government had “held back” its devolved counterparts.

Rayner said that the Tories at Westminster had been "disrespectful" to devolution as she launched her party’s General Election campaign in Wales.

She further lauded the devolved government for its achievements despite having been “held back by the Conservatives in government in the UK”.

"You see what Welsh Labour has done, whether that's free school meals for primary school children, whether that's more consultants and nurses in the NHS, free prescriptions here in Wales," Rayner said.

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SNP MP Alison Thewliss said Rayner was "unwittingly making the case for independence by admitting Westminster is disrespecting devolution and doing huge damage to Scotland and Wales”.

Thewliss went on: "The shameful reality is Sir Keir Starmer's Tory-lite Labour Party isn't offering any meaningful change from Rishi Sunak, and wants to impose more austerity cuts, Brexit and creeping privatisation of the NHS.

"In contrast, the SNP is the only party that will always put Scotland first. Under John Swinney's leadership, the SNP is resolutely focused on the priorities of the people of Scotland and will always stand up for Scotland's values and interests.

"The more votes the SNP gets at the General Election the more Westminster will be forced to listen to Scotland and deliver funding and powers for our communities."

It comes as Labour pledged to revive Rishi Sunak’s plans to ban young people from ever being able to legally smoke.

Sunak’s flagship Tobacco and Vapes Bill was not included in the legislation that was rushed through by MPs ahead of Parliament being prorogued on Friday, during a period known as “wash-up”.

Asked if Labour would reintroduce it, shadow work and pensions secretary Liz Kendall said: “If we’re elected we will make that happen and make it less likely that young people will smoke than vote Tory.”