UK Government ‘shortchanging Scotland’ in run up to Brexit, MSPs told
Theresa May’s Government has “sold out” Scotland during the Brexit process at the same time as other parts of the UK have been “bought off” with “bungs”, Holyrood’s Finance Secretary said.
Derek Mackay accused the UK Government of “shortchanging and ripping off Scotland” as the country prepares to leave the European Union.
He claimed the Scottish Government should have received more than £3.3 billion when the UK gave over £1 billion to Northern Ireland as a result of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) agreeing to support Mrs May’s minority Tory administration.
With DUP MPs having so far failed to back the Government’s Brexit deal, the Finance Secretary predicted Northern Ireland could be in line for more cash from the UK.
He spoke out after warning MSPs at Holyrood about the possible consequences of a no-deal Brexit – saying it could push Scotland into “deep recession”.
Mr Mackay said: “Frankly, all forms of EU exit will harm Scotland’s economy but leaving the EU without a deal could lead to a potential shrinking of our economy by up to 7%, a drop in exports by up to 20% and a reduced business investment by £1 billion in 2019.
“Such profound economic impacts could result in an increase in unemployment of around 100,000 in Scotland, more than doubling the current record low unemployment rate, and push the Scottish economy into a deep recession, similar in scale to the financial crash of 2008.”
Mr Mackay, who was updating Holyrood in the wake of Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring statement, said that “the DUP are probably heading for another bung”.
He added: “Whilst other parts of the UK are being bought off in terms of the Prime Minister’s vote, Scotland is being sold out.”
In addition to the extra cash for Northern Ireland, the UK Government has also set aside £1.6 billion to help support communities across England in the wake of Brexit as part of its Stronger Towns fund.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie criticised SNP politicians at both Holyrood and the Commons for failing to win more cash from Westminster.
He asked: “With 35 MPs and the heft of the Scottish Government surely this begs a crucial question, why has the Finance Secretary been so ineffective at lobbying the UK Government on behalf of Scotland?”
But Mr Mackay insisted it was “unionists who have put us in this position, nobody else”.
He told MSPs: “I would rather not have to plead with a right wing chancellor but make the decisions here in Scotland.”