Russian leader Vladimir Putin would welcome Scottish independence, the leader of the Scottish Labour party has suggested.
Anas Sarwar said it was “pretty obvious” that the Russian president would be pleased at the break-up of Britain – saying the dictator “would support anything which is damaging to his enemies”.
The senior Labour figure also claimed SNP chief Nicola Sturgeon “wants to pit Scot against Scot for her own obsession” as he set out his alternatives to independence in a speech on Monday.
Asked if the Russian president would welcome the break-up of the UK, Mr Sarwar said: “It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? Vladimir Putin wants to damage our role and who he regards as his enemies in the world.”
The Scottish Labour leader told reporters: “He wants to damage the institutions that stand up to him, he wants to damage the institutions that help to keep global peace and justice, yes, in Ukraine, but also in the wider world.”
He added: “I think he would support anything which is damaging to his enemies.”
Speaking at a Fabian Society event in London, Mr Sarwar said he wanted to see the House of Lords scrapped and replaced with an elected senate of nations and regions.
Outlining Scottish Labour’s proposed reforms as part of a paper on constitutional change, he said a new, elected chamber would have a mandate to ensure the smallest regions around the UK are not marginalised.
Mr Sarwar said Lords “has no place in 21st-century politics” – arguing that it should be replaced with “an institution which better reflects the make-up and the identity of the United Kingdom”.
The Scottish labour chief said Sir Keir Starmer agreed with the proposal for a replacement body. Abolishing the Lords was one of the 10 pledges Starmer made at the outset of his campaign to become leader.
Elections for the senate would take place at a different time to general elections and votes for the devolved parliaments, with term times being longer than those for MPs, according to the Scottish Labour plan.
The Scottish Labour paper on constitutional change also set out plans for “joint governance councils” between UK and devolved ministers with a legal duty to co-operate.
Mr Sarwar also insisted that there would be no deal with SNP after next election should Labour be the largest party at Westminster but fall short of a majority.
Amid speculation that the Tories will revive their “coalition of chaos” warnings ahead of the next general election, Mr Sarwar said: “Labour will do no deal with the SNP – no deal, no pact, no behind-closed-doors arrangement, no coalition.”
“Another Tory government is precisely what the SNP wants too, because it allows them to continue their grievance campaign,” he added.
“For more than a decade, the SNP and the Tories have stoked up bitterness, division and anger and created a politics of us versus them.”
Attacking the PM and this party, the Scottish Labour MSP said: “Boris Johnson is a gift for the SNP.”
Mr Sarwar added: “Every time they fail, they either shout: ‘Independence’, or they point at Boris Johnson’s Tories and say: ‘At least we’re not as bad as that lot over there’.”
“Another Tory government is precisely what the SNP wants too, because it allows them to continue their grievance campaign.”