ANAS Sarwar has defied Keir Stamer’s command not to join RMT picket lines.

The Scottish Labour leader met with striking workers in Edinburgh on Tuesday morning. 

The meeting promoted a furious response from the Scottish Conservatives who said passengers would be "outraged to see Anas Sarwar on the picket lines, supporting these selfish strikes."

Around 40,000 members of the union have walked out in the first of three days of industrial action. It is the biggest rail strike in three decades. 

However, according to a memo, obtained by Politics Home, Sir Keir, in a bid to distance his party from the disruption, told his frontbenchers to stay away from the striking workers. 

The order from the leader’s office said: “We have robust lines. We do not want to see these strikes to go ahead with the resulting disruption to the public. The government have failed to engage in any negotiations.

“However, we also must show leadership and to that end, please be reminded that frontbenchers including [parliamentary private secretaries] should not be on picket lines.

“Please speak to all the members of your team to remind them of this and confirm with me that you have done so.”

On Tuesday morning, Mr Sarwar, who, while not a member of the Labour frontbench is still one of the party’s most senior politicians, ignored this missive. 

He and the Scottish party’s transport spokesman, Neil Bibby met with rail staff on the picket line outside Edinburgh Waverley. 

In a tweet, he said: “Solidarity with those on the picket lines. This is a crisis entirely of the Government’s making.

“The workers don’t want strikes. The unions don’t want strikes. The public don’t want strikes. They demand better.”

Other senior figures have also ignored the order. Kate Osborne, a parliamentary aide to shadow Northern Ireland secretary Peter Kyle, joined striking workers in Bromley, south-east London, saying: “I’m a trade unionist, I will always stand on the side of the workers.”

Responding to the leaked memo on Monday evening, she added: “Labour was formed by the trade union movement to give working people a political voice.”

Navendu Mishra — an opposition whip — also posted a photograph alongside striking workers on Tuesday morning, saying: “This treacherous government has underfunded & mismanaged our public transport network for more than a decade.

“As a proud trade unionist, I stand with all workers on our railway network who are taking industrial action to fight for their jobs & keep passengers safe.”

Asked if they would face disciplinary action, shadow Treasury minister Pat McFadden told Sky News: “That's a matter for the whips and for Keir Starmer.”

The Scottish Conservative shadow transport minister, Graham Simpson, hit out at the Scottish Labour leader.

The MSP said: “Passengers across the country will have been outraged to see Anas Sarwar on the picket lines, supporting these selfish strikes.

“The whole country is being held to ransom by a union that would rather cause disruption than get round the negotiating table and be part of the solution – yet instead of sticking up for ordinary travellers, Anas Sarwar has proved he’s firmly on the side of this militant union.

“Even Keir Starmer knows that these strikes are excessive and irresponsible. The Scottish Labour leader is utterly out of touch if he thinks he’ll win support with this blatant stunt.”

Sharon Graham, the general secretary of Unite, hit out at Sir Keir over the order. 

She said: “The Labour Party was founded by the trade unions and we expect Labour MPs to defend workers, by words and by actions. To instruct Labour MPs not to be on picket lines with workers speaks volumes.

“You don’t lead by hiding. No-one respects that. It’s time to decide whose side you are on. Workers or bad bosses?”

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, said: “This is ridiculous nonsense from the party which was created by trade unions. Solidarity is what our movement is all about.”