Anas Sarwar has refused to criticise the UK Labour leader after Sir Keir Starmer said he opposed a key principle of Scotland’s gender recognition reforms.

It comes as Sir Keir's shadow Scottish secretray criticised MSPs "slagging off" the UK leader oft he party, but was branded "ludicrous" for claiming “there's nothing between the two parts of the Labour Party on this".

The UK Labour leader appeared to undermine Mr Sarwar’s party at the weekend after oppos a key ingpart of the Bill, despite Scottish Labour supporting the proposals.

The plans, overwhelmingly backed by MSPs would remove the requirement for trans people to need a gender dysphoria diagnosis to obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC) in a move to a self-ID system in line with several other countries.

The Bill would also reduce the lower age limit someone can obtain a GRC to 16.

Read more: Keir Starmer showing 'utter contempt' for Labour MSPs over gender laws

But on Sunday, Sir Keir said: “I have concerns about the provision in Scotland, in particular the age reduction to 16.”

Asked about whether someone was old enough to change their gender at 16, he said: "No, I don't think you are."

When asked whether he would block the Scottish legislation if he was prime minister. He said he wanted to wait to see what legal advice the UK Government had received.

Labour MSP Monica Lennon, who challenged Mr Sarwar for the party leadership in 2021, yesterday said she was “disappointed” with the UK party leader’s comments.

She described the section 25 order by Tory ministers ot block the gender recognition reforms as a “cynical and dangerous power move by an out of control UK Government.”

But Mr Sarwar, failed to criticise Sir Keir’s comments over the legislation.

Read more: Labour split over Tory plan to block Gender Recognition Reform

Speaking to broadcasters, Mr Sarwar said: “Where Keir and I agree is we are both absolute supporters of devolution.

“We both support reform of the gender laws across our country. We both believe we need to remove the inhumanities in obtaining a GRC. We both recognise that trans people face prejudice every single day – we have to address that. We both believe we have to protect single-sex spaces.

“That is where there is no disagreement at all.

“I think there is a way forward on this.”

He added: “I think we were right support the legislation, we were right to raise concerns through the process of the legislation.

Read more: Starmer expresses 'concerns' over aspects of Scots gender law reforms

“We were right to demand the Equalities and Human Rights Commission produce the guidance following the legislation as well as the Scottish Government. That now needs to happen.

“I think that’s the approach we should be taking, rather than this crude section 35 order which is about dividing, which is about creating a culture war – which is about fighting a constitutional battle and playing politics rather than actually supporting people who are facing discrimination every day across our country.”

Speaking on BBC Good Morning Scotland, Labour’s shadow Scottish Secretary, Ian Murray, said there were “arguments on both sides”, adding that “we should wait and let the courts decide on this”.

Mr Murray, Labour’s only MP in Scotland, insisted that “there is no point in Monica Lennon slagging off Keir Starmer” if a resolution is to be found, adding that “there's nothing between the two parts of the Labour Party on this”.

He said: “The problem we've got at the moment, of course, is the governments are refusing to find a resolution to this problem.

“They've been refusing to find a resolution to any of these cross border problems and therefore, we've ended up in a constitutional quagmire created by themselves, which probably the cynic in me would say they quite like having this constitutional fight rather than trying to resolve that and of course.

“Whilst the constitutional fight is going on, a very legitimate constitutional fight because the legislation is there that these mechanisms can be used, trans people are left in limbo, the legislation.”  

Rachael Hamilton MSP, the Scottish Conservatives shadow equalities spokesperson, said that “Labour’s position on this issue is as clear as mud”.  

She said: “Ian Murray ludicrously claims that ‘there's nothing between the two parts of the Labour Party on this’ though Sir Keir Starmer says he has serious concerns about young people being allowed to legally change gender at 16, while Anas Sarwar instructed Scottish Labour MSPs to back that very measure.  

“His party’s amendments either had no effect – the clash with the Equalities Act is still there – or they were rejected by the SNP, yet Labour MSPs fell in line behind Nicola Sturgeon anyway.”

Ms Hamilton added: “It’s absurd for Ian Murray to say ‘we raised concerns in Holyrood about the reduction to 16’ when Anas Sawar ordered all of his Scottish Labour MSPs to vote down key safeguard amendments from the Scottish Conservatives to keep the age at 18.

“After the age reduction remained in the bill, Labour MSPs were whipped to vote for it anyway. Ian Murray is tying himself in knots over his party’s divisions and inconsistencies.

“And while Ian Murray sits on the fence about whether Labour would have used section 35, Scottish MSPs are parroting the SNP’s overblown rhetoric. Labour is completely split over this issue, and he’s the only one who apparently can’t see it.”