Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has accused the SNP of “campaigning for a Tory government”, during rowdy exchanges at Holyrood.
The past week has been coloured by electioneering from both Labour and the SNP in the wake of local elections in England.
Despite a collapse in the Conservative vote, with the party losing more than 1,000 council seats, projections suggest Labour could fall short of an overall majority if the results were repeated at the general election expected next year.
The SNP has since ramped up its rhetoric on the cost of its support to potentially prop-up a Labour government, with another independence referendum top of the party’s list of demands.
During First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Mr Sarwar hit out at the SNP’s demands, saying: “It’s just been announced that interest rates will go up again, meaning higher mortgages, all because of Tory economic chaos.
“This in the same week that the SNP launched its campaign for another Tory government.
“Can I ask the First Minister to put aside his party’s self-interest and be honest – what is better for Scotland, a Labour government or a Tory government?”
Responding, Mr Yousaf quipped “what’s best for Scotland is independence”, to rapturous applause from his backbenchers.
“What we have with Keir Starmer is of course an individual who has reneged on his promise to abolish tuition fees for students in England.
“What we have with Keir Starmer, just yesterday, is an individual who refused to repeal cruel Tory legislation such as the Illegal Migration Bill.
“Scotland doesn’t need cruel, harmful policies imposed on it, whether it’s by a politician that wears a blue tie or a politician that wears a red tie, what Scotland needs is the full powers of an independent nation to chart our own course and get out of this unequal and broken union.”
The exchange was repeatedly interrupted and Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone castigated MSPs for their loud jeering.
Mr Sarwar went on to accuse Mr Yousaf of being “so out of touch” with Scotland, claiming a UK Labour government would scrap trade union legislation, create a publicly-owned energy company and make the UK an “R&D (research and development) powerhouse”.
Mr Yousaf replied: “We’re not interested in just getting rid of the Tories for a little while, we want rid of the Tories forever.
“The way we do that is of course by voting for independence.”
The First Minister went on to accuse the Labour Party of a lurch to the right, describing it as a “Conservative tribute act” and claiming leader Sir Keir Starmer had “done a Nick Clegg” by indicating he would not make university tuition free.
He added: “We are prepared to work with any political party in order to keep the Tories out of Number 10, why is Keir Starmer refusing to work with the Scottish National Party in order to keep the Tories out of Number 10?”
Responding, Mr Sarwar claimed the First Minister is more interested in attacking Labour than “getting rid of a Tory Government”, prompting loud jeers from the SNP benches and another intervention from the Presiding Officer.