Scotland’s First Minister has invited Sir Keir Starmer to Bute House to put “political differences” aside to work together following the general election.
In a letter to the Labour leader, Humza Yousaf said differing political views should not “prevent us being able to work together”.
He wrote: “I hope you will accept this invitation to meet and that we can establish a working relationship in the interests of the people we represent.”
Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme, Mr Yousaf appealed to Sir Keir to work with the SNP on reducing child poverty and strengthening relations between the UK and Scottish governments.
He told the programme Sir Keir will “absolutely” be the next UK prime minister, and said he must tackle child poverty by committing to scrap the two-child benefit cap – which the Labour leader has previously not committed to.
The policy prevents parents from claiming child tax credits or universal credit for a third or subsequent child born after April 2017. A so-called rape clause, which requires women to declare their child was conceived as a result of rape in order to maintain the benefits, should also be scrapped, the First Minister said.
Previously, Mr Yousaf said the SNP’s conditions of working with Labour would be Sir Keir paving the way for a future Scottish independence referendum.
In his letter, published on Sunday, the First Minister made clear independence is still a priority.
“My Government is clear that Scotland’s future is as an independent country in the European Union, and that there is a democratic mandate for a referendum on independence which should be respected,” he said.
He later told Kuenssberg: “I’d like to speak to Keir Starmer as the man who will undoubtedly be the next prime minister.”
In a direct appeal to the Labour leader, he said: “SNP MPs will work with you.
“When it comes to Keir Starmer being the next prime minister of the United Kingdom, which I think he absolutely will be, I should say I’m very willing to work with an incoming Labour government.
“I think there’s plenty that we can work on. There will be disagreements – the constitution perhaps being the obvious one.”
It was put to Mr Yousaf on the programme that independence is unlikely to be offered by Sir Keir. Asked whether he accepts independence is unlikely to happen anytime soon, he said: “I don’t accept that.”
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