Scottish election 2021: Labour's Anas Sarwar claims SNP and Tories have 'forgotten this is a pandemic election'

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has accused his SNP and Tory opposite numbers of forgetting Scotland is in the middle of a pandemic election.

He claimed they appeared more interested in “old arguments” on the constitution and insisted the focus of the next parliament had to be on the recovery from Covid.

Interviewed on BBC One's Sunday Show, he said: "We're in the midst of a pandemic and too many of our politicians – both Douglas Ross and Nicola Sturgeon – are falling into this trap, they are forgetting it's a pandemic election. Lives and livelihoods are still at risk.

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"There are 360,000 of our fellow citizens in furlough worried about if and when they will have a job to go back to.

Anas Sarwar says the next parliament must focus on the recovery Pic Lisa Ferguson

"We've got backlog in our NHS, our children have missed out on almost a year of education. Let's focus on those issues that unite us rather than go back to the old arguments.”

Mr Sarwar – who became leader of his party just seven weeks ago – has set his sights on replacing the Tories as the main opposition party after the elections on May 6.

He said he had made clear his opposition to independence and another referendum.

But Mr Sarwar said: "I honestly think there are issues coming through this pandemic that should take priority and precedence right now, whether you're Yes or No.

“Ten thousand of our fellow citizens have lost their lives and people think we can just have the next five years being a circus around the constitution.

“I'm saying to people 'what you're voting for is what you want the priorities to be over the course of the next parliament’.

“The idea this crisis ends the day the lockdown ends or the day the virus goes away is just not true. It's going to take us years to recover from this crisis and that should be our collective focus."

Mr Sarwar referred to Ms Sturgeon’s admission during the campaign that the SNP had “taken our eye off the ball” on drug deaths and accused her of doing the same with several other issues.

He said: “We need an effective Labour opposition in the next parliament to make sure she keeps her eye on the ball for on the recovery.”

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Anas Sarwar: Failure to confront constitutional divide behind Scottish Labour de...

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