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Labour's Anas Sarwar relinquishes shares in family firm

The firm was criticised following reports it fails to pay workers "real" living wage.

Sarwar: Competing for Labour leadership.
Sarwar: Competing for Labour leadership.

Scottish Labour leadership candidate Anas Sarwar has announced he has relinquished all his shares in a family firm.

Mr Sarwar was criticised following reports United Wholesale (Scotland), in which he had a stake, fails to pay all its workers the "real" living wage.

Questions were also raised over union representation at the business.

He announced he will relinquish the shares to demonstrate his "commitment to public service" and focus the campaign debate fully on policy issues.

The move comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launched an attack on him at Holyrood earlier this week. After Mr Sarwar told a leadership hustings the living wage should be compulsory, Ms Sturgeon declared there is a "gulf as wide as the Clyde" between his words and actions.

"In this contest, it's only right that Labour members can hear my plans to rescue our NHS, invest in education, reverse Tory benefit cuts, tackle gender inequality, strengthen Scotland's place in the UK, and lift tens of thousands of children out of poverty."
Anas Sarwar

Announcing his decision on Saturday, Mr Sarwar said: "This contest is about our party's future and our country's future.

"Politicised attacks from Nicola Sturgeon and others who want to destroy the Labour Party will never stop me fighting to return us to power.

"I will always put the Labour Party and my country first. I am in the Labour Party because of my values, and members deserve to hear the radical policy ideas I am putting forward for the next Scottish Labour government."

The Glasgow politician says he has always been transparent about his shareholding in the business set up by his father and waived his right to any dividend after becoming an MSP.

Mr Sarwar is now said to have signed a discretionary trust deed that means he can never access the firm's assets.

The beneficiaries of the trust will be his three young children, who will not access the assets until they are adults, his campaign team said.

Mr Sarwar said: "I will never apologise for being my father's son. I am incredibly proud of his achievements, building a company from scratch than now employs around 250 workers - many in Nicola Sturgeon's own constituency."

He went on: "In this contest, it's only right that Labour members can hear my plans to rescue our NHS, invest in education, reverse Tory benefit cuts, tackle gender inequality, strengthen Scotland's place in the UK, and lift tens of thousands of children out of poverty."

Mr Sarwar is competing for the leadership against his Holyrood colleague Richard Leonard following Kezia Dugdale's resignation as Scottish Labour leader last month.

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