SIR Keir Starmer has said another "divisive" independence referendum is not the right way forward and does not match the priorities of the people of Scotland.

The Labour leader said the status quo "isn't working" but insisted there are other things that can be done. 

However he said he did not agree with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who suggested a second referendum should not take place until 2055.

Sir Keir was asked about the issue during an interview on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show. 

He said: "I don't think there should be another referendum. I don't think a further, divisive referendum is the right way forward.

"But I do accept that the status quo isn't working. 

"I don't accept the argument that if the status quo isn't working, the next thing you do is go to a referendum.

"I think there are other things you can do, other arguments that could be made in support of the United Kingdom."

He added: "We're in the middle of a pandemic, probably the darkest moment of the pandemic in Scotland, as much of the rest of the United Kingdom.

"The idea that the only discussion we're having about Scotland is whether there should be a referendum when the health service is on it's knees, the economy is really under strain, lots of people and families are struggling in Scotland for their jobs and the future – and every time we talk about Scotland the only question is should there be another referendum."

Asked about Mr Johnson's comments, Sir Keir said: "I heard the Prime Minister say that and I don't agree with him on that."

But he added: "If you asked the people of Scotland what their priorities are, and this has been asked many times in the last nine months, most of them understandably say the economy, jobs, health, public services."

Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney insisted a second independence referendum was a "critical response" to the coronavirus crisis. 

Responding to Sir Keir's remarks, he told the BBC's Politics Scotland: "An independence referendum is an essential priority for the people of Scotland, because it gives us the opportunity to choose how we decide to rebuild as a country from Covid.

"It would give us the opportunity to design another constitutional future and to determine the nature of our economy and the way in which we deal with and support our citizens.

"It's a critical response to Covid."