ANAS Sarwar has admitted Scottish Labour still has work to do to regain trust – as he attempts to place his party as the prime pro-devolution option to voters.

The party is positioning itself as the pro-devolution choice to the public, but Mr Sarwar has insisted that any overhaul of Scotland’s devolved powers should not need to be agreed through a referendum.

Mr Sarwar said he was determined “to focus on those who still need convincing” to back his party as he set a challenge for Labour politicians across the UK to “get out of our comfort zone”.

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The Glasgow MSP is attempting to differentiate his party from the constitutional wrangling between the SNP and the Conservatives – although insisted he holds “unequivocal” support for Scotland remaining part of the UK.

Mr Sarwar warned that both the Tories and SNP are “both wanting to force you to pick a side”.

He added: “When you look at the behaviour of the two other main parties in Scotland – the SNP and the Tories – it’s no wonder that Scots are feeling disconnected from the decision-making in our country.”

The Scottish Labour leader labelled Boris Johnson’s leadership as “disastrous and incompetent”, while he claimed Nicola Sturgeon is “divisive and increasingly disconnected”.

He added: “The Tories have no understanding of the needs and desires of Scottish communities.

“And in the SNP, I believe Scotland is being let down by oversight, and a growing arrogance of power.

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“And I say that, candidly, as the leader of a party which many people believe grew arrogant in power itself.”

Mr Sarwar bluntly stressed that “the status quo is no longer acceptable”, but insisted “we can’t close our eyes and simply pretend that it isn’t an issue or a challenge”.

He added: “Part of promoting a reformed UK is about making the case for the UK and I’m really determined to do that.”

The Scottish Labour leader said that he does not want any renewed form of devolution “to be conditional on a referendum” or used as “some kind of political fix” for the unionist case for Scotland’s future.

He said: “Anyone that thinks, and this is a game that Labour politicians and Labour leaders have played for years, that there is some kind of devolution fix or constitutional wheeze that stops independence or stops a referendum – that is not what I am all about or what Keir is about.

“We are advocating further devolution because we think it’s the right thing to do and that should not be conditional on a referendum. We do it because we believe in devolution.

“The SNP is not a pro-devolution party – independence ends devolution. The Tories are not a pro-devolution party – they want to force Scots to pick a side and play to their own base.”

Mr Sarwar was asked about UK-wide polling giving Labour a lead in support over the Conservatives following sleaze scandals and reports of Whitehall lockdown parties.

The Scottish Labour leader said the positive polling was “progress” but warned his party cannot become “complacent”

He added: “On a psychological level, I think what’s really important in terms of the UK Labour party is I think the people in Scotland need to believe and see that UK Labour is serious about winning again and can win again.

“I think if people see that, that is likely to benefit us in the polls and the election itself come the general election campaign.

“People need to believe we can replace them (the Conservatives) and we can win the election.”

Mr Sarwar said he doesn’t want a situation where Labour is asking the public “hold your nose an vote for us”, but instead wants the Scottish public to “pro-actively and positively want to vote Labour in the general election so we can return Labour MPs in Scotland”.