JOHN Swinney and Anas Sarwar have clashed after the Scottish Labour leader claimed there would be “no austerity” if Keir Starmer becomes prime minister.

During the BBC’s Debate Night election special, which saw the leaders the SNP, Scottish Labour, Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Greens and the Scottish LibDems face-off, Swinney pointed to predictions from the Institute of Fiscal Studies warning that there were £18 billion of “sharp cuts” coming regardless of whether the Tories or Labour win the election.

However, Sarwar immediately promised there would no austerity measures under a Labour government.

“Let me say unequivocally there will be no austerity under a Labour government,” he said.

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“We saw the consequences of Tory austerity on this country and how it devastated local budgets.

“And we also saw the consequences of austerity imposed by John Swinney when he was finance secretary.

“We’re going to impose a windfall tax on the oil and gas giants who are making record profits and use that money to lower peoples bills and invest in the jobs of the future.

“That would raise ten billion pounds. Something, shockingly, that the SNP and now the Tories seem to oppose although they want to impose higher taxes.”

Swinney hit back by pressing Sarwar on how Labour was going to balance the books.

He said: “The problem with what Anas has said there is that independent experts, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the Institute for Government, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, all say there are 18 billion pounds worth of cuts that the Conservative government plan, which the Labour Party has accepted because they have accepted the fiscal rules the Tories have put in place.

“And what that means is that Anas is not being straight with you. There is going to be £18 billion of public spending cuts and we’ve had enough austerity from the Tories, we don’t it imposed on us by any incoming Labour government.”

Following the exchange outgoing Scottish Tory leader took aim at the Scottish Government’s income tax rises and said Labour’s windfall tax plans would put 100,000 jobs at risk.

However, it was Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater who received the first applause of the night after taking aim at the super rich and the Tories.

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“I find several of the things that Douglas Ross said disingenuous. That 100,000 jobs figure is based on an American investment bank trying to win oil and gas profits.

“The idea that he tries to project that we’re all in this together is simply not true.

“Working people have borne the brunt of cuts because the Tories – their austerity policies – mean they have been cutting taxes for the wealthiest and trying to balance the books by cutting public services.

“It is disingenuous for Douglas Ross to pretend that times are hard. Times are not hard for the super wealthy. They have made out like bandits since Covid, their wealth has doubled and tripled.”