THERE COULD NOT be a worse time to break up Britain, yet listening to Nicola Sturgeon you would think it was the great panacea for Scotland. Britain will be paying for Coronavirus for a long time to come, as will every other major developed economy. Only by standing together and rebuilding communities as one will the UK come through, sharing the burden to relieve pressure on the poorest.
It’s called community solidarity – who could be against that?
In fact, Brexit presents an opportunity to reassert such solidarity between poorer communities across the UK who have been hardest hit by the pandemic. I have no doubt that most Scots, Welsh or even Irish never resented being in union with the working-class English, least of all those in England’s north and midlands. I believe it was the Westminster-bound public school elite that many felt alienated from – a sentiment shared also by England’s poor.
How ironic then that Nicola Sturgeon seems more out of touch with the average needs of the working people of Scotland than are the working people of England, who share the same burdens and are bonded by the same spirit. Just at the time the country needs to stand together, the SNP is shamelessly politicking and breaking the first rule of democracy – trusting the people, who gave their generational verdict in 2014.
As Brian Monteith wrote recently in City AM: “Sturgeon announced the Scottish government was going to give all NHS and public sector care workers a £500 bonus as a thank you for all their dedication and self-sacrifice. She then appealed for the UK Prime Minister to give an exemption to the resulting tax liability so workers would receive the full amount in their take-home pay.”
Mr Monteith explained, “we had Mother Christmas being munificent with (English) taxpayers’ money, while creating a fresh nationalist grievance that put Boris and Rishi in a bad Scrooge-like light.” Yet, he argued, “while Scottish income tax revenue is collected by HMRC, it is all paid over to the Scottish government” and “all that is required is for Sturgeon to gross up the payment to cover the tax”.
Indeed, according to the Fraser Allander Institute, over £1bn of UK government relief funding for business had not yet left the Scottish government’s ledgers. It is the Janus-faced policies of the SNP that never cease to amaze, as well as the finger-pointing towards London despite the enormous power Edinburgh now has. Likewise, the irony of leaving the organic UK but joining the inorganic EU should be lost on no one.
As Kevin Hague argued in the Spectator – citing Andrew Wilson, author of the SNP’s Sustainable Growth Commission – “worries about the economic implications of leaving the UK single market, abandoning the Sterling currency union, losing the economic support offered by UK-wide pooling and sharing, dismantling our shared defence resources and unpicking our deeply integrated machinery of state can apparently be dismissed”.
Alongside ‘Janus-faced’ we can add opportunistic. As Mr Hague wrote: “While it is undeniably true that Brexit has heightened the sense of grievance in Scotland on which the separatists thrive, their dogmatic commitment to independence existed long before Brexit. Are we expected to forget that the SNP campaigned for independence in 2014 in the certain knowledge it would take Scotland out of the EU?”
Rightly, Mr Hague asserts that “the EU accounts for just 21 per cent of Scotland’s exports compared to 60 per cent to the rest of the UK”. Meanwhile “Scotland can’t join the EU while using Sterling” yet “the SNP strategy is to pitch a narrative of ‘keep the pound and join the EU’ in the hope that people won’t realise that this kicks the prospect of EU membership into the far distant future.”
Moreover, to get around Brussels’ Fiscal Compact, “Scotland would have to address its structural, higher-spending driven deficit”, which may “require at least a decade of economic austerity”. As if to illustrate the SNP’s opportunism, Mr Hague claimed that during the North Sea oil boom of the 80s a case for Scottish independence was made, but “now North Sea oil revenues have collapsed and the wider UK economy sustains higher spending in Scotland, we are told this too is a reason for independence.”
Meanwhile, “Scotland doesn’t suffer from poorer revenue generation”, but “benefits from higher public spending”, with “Scottish public spending per head is 12 per cent higher than the UK average”.
Moreover, “if Scottish public spending were decimated, Scotland’s deficit would [only] come into line with the UK average”. The SNP is essentially pitching for “the abandonment of the solidarity and bonds of a common citizenship upon which the UK’s welfare state was built.” Yet has no economic plan to explain how the welfare state can be maintained
Instead of listening to the SNP message, NOW is the time for Britain to pull together.
Would the people of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have been able to access the newly-approved vaccine had it not been for the resources of the UK Government pulling together to fast-track approval?
Far from wanting to pull Britain apart, the Brexiteer stance on the Northern Irish Protocol demonstrates commitment to Britain’s integrity and sovereignty. The SNP’s shameless opportunism must not be allowed to tear Britain apart.
Jonathan Saxty is Assistant Editor of Brexit-watch.org and an entrepreneur based in London. Educated at LSE and Cambridge, and called to the Bar as a double scholar at Lincoln’s Inn, he is an entrepreneur with a passion for improving peoples’ lives. Jonathan’s particular area of interest is Britain’s long–term geopolitical and economic future after Brexit.
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