Keir Starmer looks to Nicola Sturgeon ‘for inspiration’, Douglas Ross claims

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has claimed that Labour leader Keir Starmer looks to Nicola Sturgeon “for inspiration”, adding that you cannot “fit a hair” between Labour and the SNP on policy.

The comments come as the Scottish Conservative leader, who is both an MSP and an MP, prepares to give a new year speech in Edinburgh on Friday.

The speech will also say that the Conservatives have “not lived up to expectations” in what has been a “difficult” year for the party.

“Last year was difficult for the Conservative Party across the UK,” he will say. “To be frank, we haven’t lived up to expectations. Our focus, as a UK and Scottish party, must be on working to re-earn trust. But Rishi Sunak’s first couple of months in office have shown a return to the quiet competency that voters expect from us”.

Ross will also claim that Rishi Sunak’s leadership has brought a return to “quiet competency” at Westminster. “Our focus, as a UK and Scottish party, must be on working to re-earn trust,” he will say.

Commenting on the Scottish Labour party, Ross will accuse his Labour counterpart, Anas Sarwar of being “opposition to the SNP in name only”.

Ross is to say: “Anas Sarwar has claimed that he has brought his party back onto the pitch, yet Labour are now playing for Team Sturgeon.

“Nicola Sturgeon faced more opposition in the passing of her Gender Recognition Reform Bill from SNP backbenchers than she did from Anas Sarwar and his party.

“On North Sea jobs, on prisoner voting, on rent controls, on the future of Scottish education and on Covid laws – Labour backed the nationalist position.

“And at Westminster, Labour MPs abstained in the face of an SNP attempt to secure a second independence referendum.

“Even more incredibly, Keir Starmer actually looks to Nicola Sturgeon’s government for inspiration. He has said that a UK Labour Government would introduce their own Hate Crime Act and GRR Bill.

“There is no need for a post-election pact – a Sturgeon-Starmer alliance already exists. You can’t fit a hair between Labour and the SNP”.

In response, the SNP has said it is actually the Conservative and Labour parties which are “joined at the hip” on issues such as Brexit and whether Scotland should have a second independence vote.

Ian Murray, shadow secretary of state for Scotland, claimed that the Conservatives were the biggest threat to the Union with a leadership that puts the party before the country. He said: “It is going to take more than a few new year’s resolutions and a badly delivered speech to make flip-flop Douglas Ross politically relevant”.

Paul McLennan, the SNP East Lothian MSP, said: “The Tories and Labour are also joined at the hip in their anti-democratic blocking of Scotland’s right to choose our own future, just as they were back”.