New first minister has ‘real opportunity’ to reset UK relations – Alister Jack
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack told MPs there was a “real opportunity” for the new first minister to “reset the relationship” with the UK Government.
Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf is running against Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and former community safety minister Ash Regan to be the next SNP leader and first minister, following Nicola Sturgeon’s shock resignation.
Opening Scotland questions in the House of Commons, Mr Jack said: “I realise many of my colleagues on the (SNP) benches diagonally opposite are somewhat preoccupied by the contest to become the leader of the SNP and Scotland’s first minister.
“In my view, this is a real opportunity for a new first minister to reset the relationship with the United Kingdom Government, to work constructively with us and to make life better for the people of Scotland.
“We need a first minister who will put Scotland’s interests above the nationalist interests and my offer to all those running in this is that the United Kingdom Government stands ready to work with you and that will be the real win for improving the lives of people in Scotland.”
SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes (West Dunbartonshire) jokingly thanked the “governor-general” for a “long-winded” reply to his question linked to retained EU law.
Scotland minister John Lamont joked during the Commons session that the SNP had “decided to provide the country with compelling drama now that Happy Valley has ended”.
Labour shadow Scotland secretary Ian Murray claimed it was “frankly absurd that failed Scottish government ministers are fighting amongst themselves for the top job when too many Scots are worrying about how they pay their bills”.
Mr Murray said: “Scots are being hit very hard by the cost-of-living crisis which is made worse by the state of Scottish public services.
“The NHS is on its knees while the failing Health Secretary is focusing on other things and Scottish local government is having its funding decimated again by the finance secretary seemingly intent on offending every minority group in Scotland.
“So does the minister agree with me that amid such a serious crisis in Scotland, it’s frankly absurd that failed Scottish government ministers are fighting amongst themselves for the top job when too many Scots are worrying about how they pay their bills?”
Mr Lamont replied: “It does seem that the SNP have decided to provide the country with compelling drama now that Happy Valley has ended, but there is a very serious point here.
“Whilst the SNP indulge in the most savage infighting since Labour’s Blair/Brown civil war, Scotland is crying out for attention on things that really matter, the economy, the health service and the education system.”