John Swinney slams Alister Jack's 'menacing behaviour' over Scottish nuclear plant

John Swinney has blasted Alister Jack for his "menacing behaviour" over plans for a new nuclear power plant in Scotland.

The SNP First Minister said that the Tory Scotland Secretary had "made no mention of this proposal to the Scottish Government".

He added that the Scottish Government will "have nothing to do with nuclear power."

Jack sparked a row on Wednesday after he told a House of Lords committee he has instructed UK ministers to begin planning for a reactor north of the border.

The Scottish Government has so far opposed the plans but Jack predicted a unionist administration will be in power in Scotland after the next Holyrood election in 2026.

Swinney was asked by SNP MSP Rona Mackay if Scottish ministers had been approached about the plans during First Minister's Questions on Thursday.

A visibly angry Swinney said: "I am often lectured in this parliament about the importance of good intergovernmental relations.

"The Secretary of State for Scotland has made no mention of this proposal to the Scottish Government.

"This is utterly and completely incompatible with good intergovernmental working and it's illustrative of the damaging behaviour, the menacing behaviour of the Secretary of State for Scotland.

"The Scottish Government will not support new nuclear power stations in Scotland.

"I was in Ardersier on Monday, the Net Zero Secretary [Mairi McAllan] was in Nigg on Tuesday, supporting the announcements of formidable investments in the renewable energy potential of Scotland.

"Massive potential investments that will bring jobs and opportunities to the Highlands and Islands and deliver green, clean energy for the people of Scotland.

"That's the policy agenda of this government and we'll have nothing to do with nuclear power."

A UK Government source said: "Nuclear power in the form of an SMR makes sense in terms of Scotland’s energy mix, transition to net zero, investment and jobs.

"The SNP’s opposition to nuclear power looks increasingly irrational but their block can be lifted in 2026 and it is absolutely right for the UK Govt to plan ahead on that basis."

Under questioning from longtime SNP opponent and Labour peer George Foulkes, Jack told the Lords committee on Wednesday: “On the small nuclear reactors, I have asked the energy minister to plan for one in Scotland.

“I believe that in 2026 we’ll see a unionist regime again in Holyrood and they will move forward with that.”

He added that he does not “see any point in having a great fight over it” given the “timescales in front of us” – likely an allusion to the upcoming general election expected this year.

The Tory MP also hit out at the SNP Government, saying devolution has not failed but that there has been “bad governance”.

He added: “We have a UK Government supportive of devolution, and an SNP-led Scottish Government that opposes devolution.

“A nationalist administration whose political interests are not served by devolution succeeding. So of course there has been tension between Scotland’s two governments. But friction is not evidence of devolution failing.”

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