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Crisis for Sarwar as second Labour Council leader urges UK Government to bypass Scottish Parliament

“Anas Sarwar remained silent yesterday hoping nobody would notice one Labour Council effectively calling for the devolution settlement to be ripped up but today we have more Labour Councils joining this call. This is now a full blown crisis for Scottish Labour. Anas Sarwar must urgently distance himself from these proposals and confirm that he believes it is for the Scottish Parliament to determine how Barnett Consequentials are allocated - not Michael Gove, not the UK Chancellor or anyone at Westminster.“

ALBA Party have slammed the Labour Party after as a second senior Labour figure has now written to the UK Government asking them to bypass the devolution settlement.

Yesterday Inverclyde’s Labour council leader has urged a Tory Cabinet Minister to bypass the Scottish Parliament and instead fund local authorities in Scotland directly. It has now been revealed today that the Labour leader of West Dunbartonshire Council has also called on Michael Gove to rip up the devolution settlement.

The Labour Council leaders want the UK Government to fund them directly as opposed to the Scottish Parliament allocating resources to the devolved responsibilities.

Alba Party’s General Secretary Chris McEleny says that the move amounts to nothing short of the Labour Party calling on the UK Government to impose “Direct Rule” over Scotland. He has again urged Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar to distance himself from the proposals.

Sarwar remained silent yesterday when asked if he backed the call of his top Council Chiefs.

Inverclyde Labour Council leader Stephen McCabe made the plea to Michael Gove after the Scottish Government tied funding from Westminster to freezing Council Tax for the coming year. Alex Salmond’s Alba Party have called for Councils across Scotland to freeze council tax to ease the squeeze on household budgets in the midst of a cost of living crisis.

£147m of funding has been put in place to keep the council tax at current levels.

The Scottish Government believe another £45m will come from the UK Government's Budget next month which will be passed to Councils that have agreed to freeze council tax.

The cash is expected to derive from increases in spending in England on adult social care - the portfolio of Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove.

Senior Labour figure Stephen McCabe has now been joined by Labour’s West Dunbartonshire Council leader Martin Rooney, with both now urging Gove to bypass the Scottish Parliament and instead directly award funding to local Councils. The move has been attacked by Alba Party’s General Secretary Chris McEleny who says that such a move to bypass the Scottish Parliament would be akin to direct rule with the UK Government disregarding the devolution settlement.

In his letter to Michael Gove, the Daily Record reports McCabe as writing: "You will be aware from press reports that the Scottish Government’s Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance Shona Robison MSP has advised Scottish Councils that they will only receive a share of the estimated £45m of Barnett consequentials from the UK Government if they agree to freeze Council Tax.

“I am seeking your urgent intervention to ensure that all Councils in Scotland receive a share of this additional funding, should it be allocated by the Chancellor in next week’s UK Budget.”

McCabe also copied in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt. Martin Rooney’s has also sent the same letter to Mr Gove.

Inverclyde-based General Secretary of Alba Party Chris McEleny has condemned the move. He has called on Anas Sarwar to distance himself from the proposal.

Commenting McEleny said:

“Household budgets shouldn’t be caught in the middle of Labour Councillors relishing the opportunity to get themselves some national limelight.

“This proposal would completely disregard the entire foundation of devolution and instead the UK Government would determine that it is best placed to determine how the Scottish Parliament should allocate the resources it has responsibility for. This would amount to nothing less than direct rule of the finances of Scottish Councils by Westminster.

“Anas Sarwar remained silent yesterday hoping nobody would notice one Labour Council effectively calling for the devolution settlement to be ripped up but today we have more Labour Councils joining this call. This is now a full blown crisis for Scottish Labour. Anas Sarwar must urgently distance himself from these proposals and confirm that he believes it is for the Scottish Parliament to determine how Barnett Consequentials are allocated - not Michael Gove, not the UK Chancellor or anyone at Westminster.

"Alba Party believe that in the midst of a Cost of Living crisis it is the job of our politicians to help keep money in our pockets - not take more out. That’s why Alba Party have spent the past months campaigning for a Council Tax Freeze.“

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