Labour leaders reaffirm 'strong relationship' amid 'division' claims

The branches of the party have expressed different positions in recent months around the two-child benefit cap and gender reforms.

Sir Keir Starmer and Anas Sarwar have insisted there is no “division” between the two branches of the Labour party – despite recent divergencies over policies.

The party north and south of the border has expressed different positions in recent months, particularly around the two-child benefit cap and gender reforms.

Last month, Sir Keir would not commit to scrapping the benefit cap – which disallows benefits being claimed on more than two children unless the third can be proved to have been conceived through rape – if his party won the next election, citing economic uncertainty, but Sarwar disagreed with the position.

In December, Scottish Labour also backed plans – which were ultimately blocked by the UK Government – for Scotland to move to a system of self-identification for transgender people, removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

Last month, Sir Keir described the move as “not the right way forward”, however, Michael Shanks, the Labour candidate in the upcoming Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election, said he backed the “de-medicalisation” of the process.

Speaking during a visit to Edinburgh, the UK Labour leader played down any assertions of a split between the two parties.

“Anas and I have got a very, very strong working relationship,” he said.

“So anybody who’s trying to find division is going to have a very, very long search.

“We obviously talk about these issues a great deal.”

Sarwar doubled down on the co-operative working between the pair, insisting that any “division” should be looked at within the SNP and the Tories.

“I think both Keir and I are absolutely resolute in the fact that we have a economically illiterate and morally bankrupt Tory government across the UK and we want to get rid of that government and install a UK wide Labour government,” he said.

I’ve always said that we will press a incoming UK Labour government to move as fast as we can on the two child benefit cap, but actually challenging poverty is more than just about welfare.

“Challenging poverty is about growing our economy, it’s about improving conditions and it’s about making sure that prosperity is shared in every part of our United Kingdom.”

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