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Sir Keir Starmer visits Scotland as first PM with mandate north of the border in 14 years | Politics News

Relations between London and Edinburgh have been severely strained for years.

The messy relationship soured dramatically in the Boris Johnson era, with public spats and name-calling.

Scottish officials have long held the view that some Tory prime ministers felt it was beneath them to meaningfully engage with the first ministers of the devolved nations.

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There were court battles over gender reforms, and the COVID inquiry exposed Nicola Sturgeon’s team wanting to generate a calculated political fight with Number 10 as the disease ravaged communities.

Text messages revealed Ms Sturgeon branding Mr Johnston a “clown”; the relationship was virtually non-existent.

The difference with Sir Keir Starmer is that he is the first prime minister in 14 years with a mandate in Scotland.

Labour is now the largest party in Scotland when it comes to Westminster. The SNP were hammered in the general election.

The new prime minister came to Edinburgh feeling emboldened after his landslide victory, but there is also a sense of respect for First Minister John Swinney‘s mandate at Holyrood.

It does feel like both sides are seriously interested in finding common ground on areas like child poverty.

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Sir Keir Starmer seeks ‘reset’

The prime minister repeatedly used the word “consensus” during my pool interview for broadcasters after the pair met in Scotland’s capital city.

The fact Sir Keir came north of the border on his first official engagement shows how fragile the political landscape has been.

Labour also have one eye on the 2026 Holyrood elections, where it wants to oust the SNP from power. This visit is very strategic.

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Politically, the SNP has benefitted from Conservative governments to drive forward its message that Scotland could control its own affairs.

The nationalists will be concerned the Labour government could dent support for a second independence referendum.

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However, if Sir Keir fails to deliver the change he has promised then the opposite could happen with the SNP telling voters all the Westminster parties have failed Scots.

There is pressure on both leaders.

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