THE SNP have descended into a “real mess”, Labour leader Keir Starmer has said.

Speaking during a visit to York University, Starmer was asked about SNP treasurer Colin Beattie, who was arrested on Tuesday morning amid an ongoing police probe into the party’s finances.

Starmer said that while he could not comment too extensively on the investigation, it was “deeply concerning”.

He told reporters: "The SNP developments are deeply concerning. Obviously there is a criminal investigation going on, so there is only so much I can say.

READ MORE: Contempt of Court: Why police have warned social media users after SNP MSP arrested

“But after 16 years in power, it has descended to this – a real mess – and those being let down are Scottish voters who are entitled to better than this.

“And if anything makes the case for change clear it is what is happening with the SNP just at the moment.

“Scotland deserves better and with Labour they would get better.”

After Beattie’s arrest, Scottish Labour depute leader Jackie Baillie (below) called for the SNP to suspend his party membership.

The National: Jackie Baillie MSP

“For too long, a culture of secrecy and cover-up has been allowed to fester at the heart of the SNP," she said.

“While the investigation spreads, the SNP is still refusing to take the basic step of suspending MSPs who are the subject of police inquiries.

“Humza Yousaf’s inaction raises questions – is his priority the cover up to protect the SNP or the people of Scotland?”

Police said of the arrest: "A 71-year-old man has today, Tuesday April 18 2023, been arrested as a suspect in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party.

"The man is in custody and is being questioned by Police Scotland detectives. A report will be sent to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

"The matter is active for the purposes of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 and the public are therefore advised to exercise caution if discussing it on social media.

"As the investigation is ongoing we are unable to comment further.”

READ MORE: What happens if an MSP is arrested? Do they lose their seat at Holyrood?

Labour have been seeking to take advantage of the “opportunity” – as Anas Sarwar called it on Monday – presented by the turmoil in the SNP.

The Scottish Labour leader told reporters that his party had been replaced as the most divided in Scotland by the SNP.

A potential by-election in formerly SNP MP Margaret Ferrier’s Rutherglen and Hamilton West is being eyed up by Scottish Labour as a chance to double their number of MPs north of the Border and provide a morale boost to their party.

Ferrier is appealing the 30-day suspension recommended by the Standards Committee, which has pushed back any potential by-election race.