The Scotland Office will be "draped in a Saltire" if Labour win power at Westminster, Anas Sarwar has told a London-based think tank. 

Mr Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, made the comments as he promised a Labour Government would “fundamentally change” the UK Government’s department north of the border. 

Under the Conservatives, he claimed: “It feels like the Scotland Office is draped in a Union Jack and is there to be the eyes and ears of the UK Government in Scotland, rather than fighting Scotland’s corner across the UK.

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“We would fundamentally change the Scotland Office, where it would be draped in the Saltire and be Scotland’s voice across the UK, and there to be the delivery unit for Scotland to make sure every single department is delivering for Scotland.”

Mr Sarwar also said in his speech to the Institute for Government that Labour winning the next general election will be a “stepping stone” to the party returning to power in Scotland in 2026.

The Scottish Labour chief conceded he does not think it will be possible for him to become Scotland’s next first minister without Sir Keir Starmer first being elected to Downing Street.

He said: “I don’t believe there is route to a Scottish Labour government that doesn’t involve Keir Starmer being prime minister and Labour winning the next general election. To me it is that stepping stone.”

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Mr Sarwar, who became Scottish Labour leader in 2021, said he and his front bench team at Holyrood are already planning how to “fix the mess” if they oust the SNP from power in Scotland in 2026.

His intervention came as Labour narrowed the SNP’s lead in the polls.

Earlier this month, a 20% swing from the SNP saw Labour win the Rutherglen and Hamilton West Westminster by-election.

Mr Sarwar was frank, saying: “I see the UK general election and the election of Keir Starmer as prime minister as a stepping stone to the election in 2026 rather than the end game.

“I’m upfront about it – and I’m upfront about it with Keir and UK Labour colleagues.”

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At the general election expected next year, Mr Sarwar said Scottish Labour will “not be a drag on the ticket”, saying instead that “Scotland is going to lead the way in delivering a UK Labour government”.

The party is already looking at what changes it can bring in north of the border if Sir Keir becomes the next prime minister.

“The hard work has already started about what we want to be implementing in Scotland in the early days of a Labour government,” Mr Sarwar said.

At  a fringe meeting at the Labour conference earlier this month Mr Sarwar argued that any constitutional change should take place swiftly under a Starmer led government and should not be held up by reforms planned for the House of Lords.

He pointed to the speed at which Labour set up the Scottish and Welsh parliaments following the 1997 election.

But listening to Mr Sarwar's speech one constitutional expert appeared to be underwhelmed with his reforms.

"Listening to Anas Sarwar at @ifgevents. He talks about resetting devolution, but a bit alarming that the only concrete reform mentioned so far is a legal duty of co-operation," wrote Aileen McHarg, Professor of Public Law and Human Rights, Durham University.

The UK Government hit back at Mr Sarwar's comments on draping the Scotland Office in a Saltire claiming his remarks misrepresented the role of the department currently.

A UK Government source said: "Anas Sarwar has clearly not been paying  attention. Before he starts measuring the curtains for Dover House, he would be well advised to study the real impact the Scotland Office has had in promoting the work of the UK Government in Scotland and defending the devolution settlement from nationalist attempts to undermine it."

A UK Government spokesperson said: "The Scottish Secretary and his team at the Scotland Office play a vital role in promoting the best interests of Scotland within a strong United Kingdom, and representing Scotland's interests effectively at the heart of the UK Government.

“We will continue to deliver for the Scottish people on important issues such as the cost of living, promoting Scottish business within the UK and overseas, and highlighting funding opportunities across the country. Our collaborative work with the Scottish Government, local authorities and communities across the country has been hugely successful in enabling the delivery of more than £2.5 billion of UK Government investment directly into Scotland."