Queen’s Speech takes ‘wrecking ball’ to Scotland’s foundations, SNP claims

The SNP has accused Boris Johnson and the UK Government of “taking a wrecking ball” to Scotland with its plans in the Queen’s Speech.

While Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said the proposals would help “forge a bright future for Scotland and the rest of the UK”, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford was more critical.

He spoke out after a speech that did not mention Scotland by name – although the Queen said the “integrity and prosperity” of the United Kingdom was of “the utmost importance” to the UK Government.

The PM described it as the “most radical Queen’s Speech in a generation”, with plans to toughen up criminal justice, invest in the NHS and ensure the UK quits the EU on January 31 next year.

Mr Blackford argued the Withdrawal Agreement Bill that ministers will bring forward will hurt Scotland’s economy and cost thousands of jobs north of the border.

He was also critical of plans on immigration and said the UK Government was failing to match Scotland’s more ambitious targets on tackling climate change.

“The Tory Government’s legislative programme would spell disaster for Scotland – taking a wrecking ball to our economic and social foundations,” Mr Blackford said.

“Rather than addressing key challenges facing the country by ending a decade of austerity, safeguarding our valuable NHS from the dangers of a post-Brexit trade deal and recognising the democratic right of Scotland’s right to choose a better future, the Tories have instead set out an agenda that serves the party’s narrow interests, not the interests of the country.”

Cabinet meeting
Cabinet meeting

Mr Jack said the plans would “mean we can finally get Brexit done, leave the EU on January 31 and forge a bright future for Scotland and the rest of the UK”.

He said: “We will take back control of our fishing waters, introduce a modern, fairer points-based immigration system.

“We will free our farmers from the bureaucratic Common Agricultural Policy and move to a system that works for them.

“We will put the arguments and uncertainty behind us, agree the Prime Minister’s deal, and go on to strike ambitious trade deals around the world.”

The Scottish Secretary stressed the PM had “once again made clear his unwavering commitment to strengthening the union and bringing all parts of our country together”.

Mr Jack, who was one of six Conservative MPs elected north of the border, added: “People in Scotland are fed up with constant political wrangling and wasteful debate.

“That is why we will not support the First Minister’s plans for another unwanted referendum on separation.”

Today's #QueensSpeech included plans for a Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission. While we do not yet know its exact remit and scope, we have concerns about its purpose.

See our full comment 👉https://t.co/w9txSxOA1ppic.twitter.com/0tY5YOhnis

— Scottish Human Rights Commission (@ScotHumanRights) December 19, 2019

The speech also included plans for a Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission to be established by the UK Government – a move which prompted concerns from the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

Its head of strategy and legal, Kavita Chetty, said: “We do not yet know the exact remit and scope of the commission announced today.

“However, given previous threats to the Human Rights Act from the current UK Government, we have concerns about its intended purpose.”

Ms Chetty said the remit and scope of the new commission “must be guided by a commitment to the highest level of protection possible for people’s rights, and respect for the rule of law”.