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Murray urged to “pick a side” in Starmer-Sarwar GRR split

The Scottish Conservatives have today written to shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray asking him to outline whether he backs Keir Starmer or Anas Sarwar after a major Labour split opened up over the controversial Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

In a BBC interview yesterday, Labour’s UK leader admitted to “concerns” over the bill, despite the party’s Scottish leader having whipped his MSPs to support those as young as 16 being given the legal right to change gender last month.

Scottish Conservative equalities spokesperson Rachael Hamilton MSP has written to Ian Murray saying that “the public have the right to know your position on this debate”, given the Edinburgh South MP’s connection to both Scottish Labour and its Westminster leader.

She points out that Anas Sarwar ignored the legitimate concerns of women’s groups and many of his party’s members over the safety of women and girls when he forced his MSPs to back Nicola Sturgeon’s self-ID bill.

Rachael Hamilton added that Labour ought to have followed the Scottish Conservatives’ lead in allowing its MSPs a free vote on the GRR Bill, given it’s a conscience issue.


Scottish Conservative shadow equalities spokesperson Rachael Hamilton MSP said: “Keir Starmer’s intervention in the GRR debate came a month too late – but his comments have opened up a huge split with Anas Sarwar.

“The Scottish Labour leader ignored the legitimate concerns of women’s groups and many in his party by forcing his MSPs to back Nicola Sturgeon’s self-ID bill, and to oppose sensible amendments put forward by the Scottish Conservatives which would have provided safeguards.

“Anas Sarwar should also have followed the lead of the Scottish Conservatives and given his MSPs a free vote on what is, after all, a conscience issue.

“Now, it appears, Keir Starmer has belatedly recognised the folly of this, at least on 16 being too young for someone to be able to make such a seismic decision.

“As Shadow Scotland Secretary, Ian Murray has a foot in both the UK and Scottish Labour camps. He therefore has a duty to pick a side and tell voters whether he shares Keir Starmer’s misgivings over Nicola Sturgeon’s bill or backs Anas Sarwar’s wholehearted endorsement of it.

“The public has a right to know what he thinks, which is why I’ve written to him today.”