Anas Sarwar has dismissed any difference between him and Sir Keir Starmer over a ceasefire in Gaza as “semantics.”

The Scottish Labour leader moved to downplay the differences ahead of the party’s conference in Glagsow where delegates are expected to back an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

Sir Keir has always stopped short of using the word “immediate”, rather calling for a “sustainable” ceasefire.

READ MORE: Jackie Bailie in Gaza ceasefire call ahead of Labour conference

Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, Mr Sarwar said: “I don’t actually think there’s as much distance in this as people now believe.

“Keir Starmer in recent days has said he wants the fighting to stop right now and for that to be a sustainable ceasefire.”

He said they both wanted the violence in the Palestinian enclave to stop “right now” along with the delivery of humanitarian aid, the release of Israeli hostages.

Mr Sarwar said: “We shouldn’t be stuck on the semantics because this is a really important issue of life and death for people right now in Gaza and in Israel.

“The idea that this is about the semantics within one political party that’s in opposition…”

Pressed on why Sir Keir had not used the phrase “immediate ceasefire”, Mr Sarwar said: “Keir Starmer has said ‘the immediate end to fighting’, which means a sustainable ceasefire.

“I am perfectly relaxed and happy to say we need an immediate ceasefire and I have been saying so for weeks and weeks on end.”

READ MORE: Flynn pleads with Sunak and Starmer to call for Gaza ceasefire

The party leader also said “open conversations” were happening with Labour’s two Scottish MPs, Ian Murray and Michael Shanks, ahead of an SNP vote on a ceasefire in the Commons this week.

When they forced a similar vote in the Commons in November, it caused splits in the Parliamentary Labour Party, with 56 MPs defying Sir Keir, including 10 shadow ministers and aides.

However, Mr Murray and Mr Shanks voted with the party whip.