Britain has been called by the SNP to pay billions of pounds to Scotland in compensation for the negative effect of Brexit on the Scottish economy while moving for a second referendum for the country’s independence.
The UK’s exit from the European Union which was formally complete on New Year Eve ended 47 years of Britain’s membership and comes 4-and-a-half-year after the UK voted to leave the bloc in a historic referendum.
Though Scotland had voted to remain with the EU with a margin of 62 per cent to 38 per cent during the referendum and has always criticized Brexit with Nicola Sturgeon often saying the departure from the EU has been made against the will of the Scottish people.
As it stands, the SNP has concluded plans for a second referendum on Scottish independence, which Ms Sturgeon said could happen after the Scottish elections in May if the party secure a majority.
But the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has downplayed all moves for a new referendum on Scottish independence, insisting that the result of the vote in 2014 exercise must be upheld.
This comes as Scottish government warned new changes to customs and exports following Brexit could cost the UK up to £7billion each year, while Constitution Secretary Mike Russell has also warned Scotland’s GDP could plummet by as much as six per cent over the next 10 years.
The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said, “It is completely unforgivable that Scotland is being forced to pay such a devastatingly high price for Boris Johnson’s extreme Tory Brexit deal, with mounting costs, red tape and disruption.
“The Tories must apologise to Scottish businesses and pay compensation to Scotland for the long-term damage they are doing to our economy – costing us billions in lost trade and growth.
“This disastrous Tory Brexit was a completely unnecessary act of economic vandalism, which has been inflicted against Scotland’s will. It is now beyond doubt that the only way to protect Scotland’s interests and our place in Europe is to become an independent country.
“With businesses, industries and communities across Scotland warning of rising costs, bureaucracy and delays, it is clear Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal has already left the UK poorer and worse off – with absolutely no benefit to Scotland at all. Every promise has been broken.”
The SNP’s Westminster leader added, “The UK Government must now provide an urgent multibillion (pound) package of compensation to Scotland to mitigate the lasting Brexit harm done to Scottish businesses, industries and communities,” he said.
“Scotland has been completely ignored by Westminster throughout the Brexit process. People in Scotland have the right to determine our own future, protect our interests, and regain the full benefits of EU membership as an independent country.”
But the compensation demands from the SNP have sparked a furious reaction from political rivals.
Scottish Tory constitution spokesman Dean Lockhart accused Ms Sturgeon’s party of “stirring up grievances” – especially when the country’s government has received “hundreds of millions of pounds” from Westminster.
He claimed the SNP are “sitting on more than £700 million of additional Covid business support funding” they have received from Chancellor Rishi Sunak, adding “not a single penny of this has yet been delivered to firms struggling massively from lockdown restrictions”.
Mr Lockhart said: “More than four years after the vote to leave the EU, the SNP have failed in their duty to support firms in Scotland in getting ready for the new trading arrangements.
“They are not being transparent about where they have spent the significant funding they have received in preparation money from the UK Government.
“The SNP are also sitting on more than £700 million of additional Covid business support funding that has recently come from the UK Chancellor. Not a single penny of this has yet been delivered to firms struggling massively from lockdown restrictions.”
Mr Lockhart also branded continued demands from the SNP for a second referendum on Scottish independence “reckless” – particularly during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Scottish Tory constitution spokesman added, “And on Brexit, the SNP should be actively helping Scottish firms deal with the new arrangements instead of sitting on the sidelines and using the situation to create yet further divisions.”