Flynn urges Sarwar to clarify Labour’s position on austerity

It comes after the SNP and Labour leaders clashed over potential public service cuts during a televised debate.

Stephen Flynn suggested Anas Sarwar may have misled voters
Stephen Flynn suggested Anas Sarwar may have misled voters (Jane Barlow/PA)

The SNP’s Westminster leader has urged Anas Sarwar to urgently clarify Labour’s stance on cuts if the party wins the General Election.

Stephen Flynn has written to the Scottish Labour leader to demand he apologises for “misleading” voters or directly sets out why Sir Keir Starmer’s economic plans will not result in cuts.

It comes after First Minister and SNP leader John Swinney clashed with Mr Sarwar over austerity during a BBC Scotland leaders’ debate on Tuesday.

Mr Swinney accused Labour of looking to press on with austerity after the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) warned the next UK government will have to make cuts or increase taxes.

The SNP has claimed around £18 billion of public service cuts will be needed under Labour’s plans after shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said last month there will no income tax or national insurance rises.

In his letter, Mr Flynn said: “Either you are so out of the loop with your Westminster leaders that you don’t understand their plans, or you are deliberately misleading voters to avoid admitting where the axe will fall.

“If you are genuinely claiming that all of the independent experts are wrong, and that the Labour Party will scrap its conservative fiscal rules, you must explain why these claims directly contradict Keir Starmer’s stated plans.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has insisted there will be ‘no austerity under Labour’
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has insisted there will be ‘no austerity under Labour’ (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“Otherwise, you must do the only decent thing – apologise for misleading voters and own up about where the axe will fall under the Labour Party’s cuts agenda.”

Speaking during the Debate Night leaders special on Tuesday, Mr Sarwar told Mr Swinney: “Read my lips: No austerity under Labour.

“Let me say unequivocally: There will be no austerity under a Labour government.

“We saw the consequences of Tory austerity on this country and how it devastated local budgets. We also saw the consequences of austerity imposed by John Swinney when he was finance secretary.”

Scottish Labour deputy leader Dame Jackie Baillie said “This is desperate and dishonest nonsense from a party with nothing to offer the people of Scotland.

“John Swinney was the architect of austerity in Scotland, taking Tory cuts and multiplying them.

“It is rank hypocrisy for the SNP to lecture anyone on austerity.

“Labour has been clear – we will end Tory austerity, deliver economic stability, treat public finances with respect and give public services a badly needed funding boost.

“On July 4, the way to make sure we get rid of this rotten Tory government is by voting Scottish Labour.”