By Viviana García
Edinburgh, UK, May 6 (EFE).- The Scottish Labour Party will not join coalitions or political pacts in the devolved parliament but is open to collaborating on policies where there is mutual agreement, the leader of the party, Anas Sarwar, told Efe Thursday after casting his vote in regional elections.
More than four million eligible voters in Scotland are heading to the polls to elect a new Scottish parliament, which is composed of 129 MSPs.
The Scottish National Party of incumbent First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is hoping to hold onto its majority in order to push for a second independence referendum, something the Labour Party opposes.
Sarwar took over as leader of Scottish Labour in February and in that short time has managed to shore up support for a party that 20 years ago was the leading force in Scotland.
It has since lost that majority to the SNP, which has been in power in Scotland since 2007.
Sarwar, 38, cast his vote this morning at a polling station in the Pollokshields area of Glasgow accompanied by his wife Furheen Ashrif and his young son.
On his way out of the polling station, he chatted with Efe about his objectives for the coming years and dismissed the possibility of making a pact with the SNP following Sturgeon’s suggestion in a Daily Record interview that she would work with Labour in Scotland’s post-pandemic recovery.
“We will do no pacts, no deals, no coalitions, but I will work with individual political parties and individual politicians on the issues we agree on,” he said.
“I’m not going to allow one big issue to stop us from working together on the issues we do agree on in order to change our country,” added the Scottish politician.
A dentist by profession, Sarwar is politically close with the former UK Prime Minister and fellow Scot, Gordon Brown.
He said Scottish Labour offered the “boldest most ambitious job creation scheme in the history of the Scottish parliament because we know we have an economic crisis coming through this pandemic.”
Sarwar is opposed to another referendum on Scottish independence, a debate the SNP has revitalized following Brexit. In 2014, Scots opted to remain in the UK by a margin of 55.3% to 44.7%.
“I don’t support independence, I don’t support a referendum,” he told Efe.
“I say directly to people, let’s focus on what unites us for a change, not what divides us. Let’s focus on what we can do, not what we can’t do.”
Sarwar first entered the devolved Scottish parliament as an MSP in 2016. The legislative chamber was inaugurated in 1999.
He also had a message for voters split by the Brexit vote.
“Whether you’re Leave or Remain, let’s work together to rebuild the country we love.” EFE