First Minister Humza Yousaf has hit out at Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar ahead of a campaign visit to Rutherglen.
The SNP leader will meet with Katy Loudon, the party’s candidate in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West seat at Westminster, on Saturday as the recall petition currently underway after Margaret Ferrier’s Commons suspension is due to close on Monday.
Ahead of the visit, he said Sarwar had been “posted missing” since UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer refused to commit to scrapping the two-child benefit cap earlier this month.
The day after Sir Keir’s comments, Sarwar was interviewed by STV and wrote a piece for the Daily Record newspaper reiterating Scottish Labour’s opposition to the policy, and saying he would “press” the UK party to drop it.
Yousaf said: “People across Scotland are struggling with the cost of living right now, and they deserve to know that politicians will do everything they can to help them through tough times.
“The SNP are absolutely clear: the two-child cap and the rape clause is an abhorrent policy, and it should be scrapped. Since Keir Starmer’s decision to retain the cruel, two-child limit, Anas Sarwar has been posted missing.
“I can understand why he is desperate to avoid scrutiny but he must be upfront with the people of Scotland and explain why his party is committing to retain a policy that will keep up to 20,000 children in poverty.
“It has long been known that Labour in Scotland is just a branch office of the Westminster party – but never before has their powerlessness been so apparent, or on such an important issue.
“After years of claiming to oppose the Tories’ two-child cap and rape clause, Labour are now going to keep it – and whatever Labour in Scotland desperately try to claim, Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves have been absolutely clear that they are not going to change course.
“Any Labour candidate now standing in Scotland – including here in Rutherglen – will now do so on a commitment that they will maintain among the very worst of Tory policies.
“They will be making a political choice to keep children and working families in poverty.
“By contrast, the SNP will unequivocally stand up for a fairer society. Our actions in Government are lifting an estimated 90,000 kids out of poverty this year.”
Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie, however, accused the First Minister of “breathtaking hypocrisy”, accusing him of “galivanting around the country” instead of governing.
“The lack of self-awareness would be laughable if not for the fact Scots are left struggling with an NHS in chaos and a devastating cost of living crisis,” she said.
“When he’s not talking about his constitutional obsession, Humza Yousaf is campaigning to keep the Tories in government by launching increasingly desperate attacks on Scottish Labour.”