LABOUR leader Sir Keir Starmer has insisted Scotland would undergo “change within the United Kingdom” if he becomes prime minister.

Nicola Sturgeon’s government lost its Supreme Court bid for Holyrood to hold its own independence referendum after judges ruled this was outwith the competence of the Scottish Parliament.

Approval from Westminster will be needed for a legal vote to take place – but the UK Government has repeatedly ruled out granting a Section 30 order which would permit this, as happening in 2014.

Ms Sturgeon said her party will now fight the next general election as a de facto referendum.

Speaking in Glasgow, Sir Keir said he recognises that Scots do not want the “status quo”, but stressed that change will be best delivered as part of the UK under his leadership.

He said Labour will prioritise tackling issues that align with Scots, such as the cost-of-living crisis and rebuilding the economy.

He was joined for his visit by Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar ahead of Small Business Saturday, a campaign supporting successful local firms.

The Labour leader was speaking as he welcomed his party's victory in the Chester by-election, claiming it demonstrates the public are “fed up” with the Tory Government.

The party held on to the seat with a majority of 10,974, delivering a defeat to Rishi Sunak in his first electoral test as Prime Minister.

Labour took more than 61% of the vote, up from 50% at the last general election, albeit with a far smaller turnout.

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Sir Keir said: “The case I will take in Scotland is that we should have change in Scotland, but that should be change within the United Kingdom – a positive case for change.

“An incoming Labour government would clearly have priorities, which I think match where most people are in Scotland, which is dealing with the cost-of-living crisis, dealing with our economy and getting it growing, making sure that we’ve got the right jobs in the right places, and that Scotland can thrive.

“We’re doing well in Scotland. We continue to build our case, but it’s a very positive case for change – I’m not arguing for the status quo in Scotland – change in Scotland within the United Kingdom.”

The Labour leader has previously said Scotland is not “stuck” in the Union, claiming it is a “voluntary organisation”, but insisted he would not back a referendum on the constitutional issue.

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, Ms Sturgeon said the judgment “exposed the myth” that the UK is a “voluntary partnership”.

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The SNP has criticised the Labour leader for what the party claims is a "flat out denial of Scottish democracy". 

SNP MSP Paul McLennan added: "He must outline what the route is for the Scottish people to have a say over their future in a referendum or admit that he doesn't believe they should have that right.

"Independence is now clearly the only route to escape harmful Westminster control, governments and policies imposed upon us against our will - whether it's Keir Starmer's pro-Brexit Labour party or the Tories in number 10.”    

In July, Mr Sarwar has launched Labour’s blueprint for the constitution, which includes the House of Lords being replaced by a “Senate of Nations and Regions”, with a report from the party claiming the “unrepresentative makeup” of the second chamber “is no longer justifiable”.

Under the proposal, members of the senate would be “elected on a mandate to represent their nation or region”.

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The plans stated that “elections should take place at different times to other elections” while “terms lengths should be longer than those of MPs, MSPs and councillors”.

Labour has also set out plans for a legal duty for the Scottish and UK governments to ensure “conflicting policy outcomes which lead to wasteful uses of public money are avoided”.

The blueprint insists there would be “no requirement for joint decision making” between ministers at Holyrood and Westminster, but governments would be “required to show that opportunities for joint working were sufficiently explored, and that data sharing was taking place as far as possible”.