Anas Sarwar has responded to Douglas Ross after the Scottish Conservative leader wrote to other leaders in a bid to create a "pro-UK anti referendum coalition" 

Douglas Ross wrote to Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Scottish LibDem chief Willie Rennie calling for them to work together to “defeat nationalism and secure Scotland’s place in the UK”.

Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign chair Alistair Carmichael however insisted that the Tory leader’s politics were “far too dark and divisive”.

Sarwar in his response said that while Scottish Labour remained committed to opposing a second referendum and Scottish independence, they would not be drawn into arguments of the past or a "petty agenda of game playing"

Sarwar wrote: "As you know, the Scottish Labour Party does not support Scottish independence or a second referendum.

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"This election is about taking Scotland forward - we deserve better than your desperate attempts to take us back to old arguments and the politics of the past.  

"In case you hadn't noticed Scotland is in the middle of a pandemic.

"This election is not some kind of game, it is about focussing on a national recovery.

"This election cannot be about an SNP psychodrama.

"It cannot be about Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond settling old scores.

"And it cannot be about your petty agenda of game playing.

"This election must be about the people of Scotland, their families and a national recovery.

"As you have recognised yourself, one of the largest threats to the Union is the leader of your own party.

"Scotland has had enough of divisive politics which you and Nicola Sturgeon share. 

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"Both you and the SNP want to waste time and energy on the imagined conflicts that divide us.

"But in Scotland, child poverty has risen - and was rising before the pandemic hit.

"This is among countless issues where the blame lies at the feet of both your party in Westminster and the SNP at Holyrood.

"A heartbreaking example of how the obsession with past disagreements fails people today.

"Rather than entertain your latest desperate plea for attention, I am focusing our energy on what matters - guaranteeing a fairer recovery and a stronger Scotland.

"Scotland deserves a better government and - as your letter demonstrates - it deserves a better opposition."

Mr Carmichael said: “Lib Dems will work with others to deliver a constructive and ambitious plan for recovery, but Douglas Ross’s politics are far too dark and divisive.

“We will focus on winning seats and ensuring that the next government is focused on putting the recovery first, not independence.

“As a football referee Douglas Ross has a knack for uniting the fans of opposing teams. As a party leader he seems to do the exact opposite.”

Ross had urged leaders to vote against Indyref2 regardless of the election result and to agree to form a pro-Union coalition "if the opportunity" arose. 

He wrote: “It is clear that the nationalists are attempting to game this election in order to deliver a supermajority in the Scottish Parliament for a second divisive independence referendum,” Ross wrote.

“In 2014 we put aside our differences and united as Better Together to say no, defeat nationalism and secure Scotland’s place in the UK. Faced with a renewed threat from a new nationalist alliance, we need to again come together as one campaign strong enough to stop a second independence referendum and secure Scotland’s recovery from coronavirus.

“It is in that spirit that I would therefore welcome an open discussion between our parties, both with regards to the upcoming election and on delivering a Scottish Parliament focused on our national recovery afterwards.”