We can’t change the weather but we can change government, jokes Sarwar in rain

The Scottish Labour leader was greeted by a downpour as he campaigned in Leith.

Anas Sarwar and leading Scottish Labour politicians sheltered under umbrellas as they joined the General Election campaign trail amid torrential rain in Leith, Edinburgh.

Mr Sarwar joked they could not change the weather but could instead “change the government”, as they gathered to support Tracy Gilbert, the Labour candidate in the Edinburgh North and Leith seat.

The downpour on Thursday came a day after the Prime Minister was soaked when he stood outside 10 Downing Street to call the election.

Mr Sarwar was joined by deputy Labour leader Dame Jackie Baillie and other party MSPs, as well as Edinburgh council leader Cammy Day.

Speaking to journalists, Mr Sarwar said: “Scotland is finally getting the General Election we have been so desperate for.

“Our country – Scotland, the UK – is crying out for change.”

Asked if a good result could pave the way for Labour to win power at the next Scottish Parliament election, he added: “I’ve always believed that the General Election would be the stepping stone to the Scottish Parliament election.

“But I’m going to spend all my time, and all my focus, making sure we actually deliver in UK Labour government.”

Asked if he believes Scottish Labour can better its 2017 result, when it won seven seats north of the border, he said: “I’ve got higher ambitions.

(PA Graphics)

“I believe there is no route to a Labour government that doesn’t go through Scotland. We have to make significant gains here in Scotland.

“I recognise on paper that there is a mountain to climb. But I think we have done a huge amount of work over the last three years to get ourselves in a fighting fit position.”

Mr Sarwar was also questioned about a recommendation from Holyrood’s standards committee that former health secretary Michael Matheson should be suspended from the Parliament for 27 days over his iPad expenses row.

The Labour leader said he does not agree with First Minister John Swinney’s assessment that the committee had become “politicised”.

He said: “(The First Minister) wants to hold individual members of a committee to account for their actions, but he’s not willing to hold Michael Matheson – who attempted to misuse £11,000 of public money – to account.”

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