Rishi Sunak must give devolved administrations 'proper respect', says Nicola Sturgeon

Scotland needs to see "proper respect" from Rishi Sunak if he wants to reset the relationship that frayed under his predecessors, says Nicola Sturgeon.

The first minister met the new prime minister for the first time since he took power on Thursday at the British-Irish Council, and described their meeting as "cordial and constructive".

But she warned that under Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, relations between Westminster and all the devolved administrations had "deteriorated", and it will take more than warm words to fix the bonds.

Politics Hub: PM holds first talks with Sturgeon and Drakeford

Ms Sturgeon and Mr Johnson's interactions were known to be frosty, especially over the SNP's demands for a fresh independence referendum.

Ms Truss branded the first minister an "attention seeker" and did not make the customary phone call to her after taking the keys to Number 10.

Ms Sturgeon returned fire by saying Ms Truss would be "utterly catastrophic" for the economy.

The first minister told reporters she had "deep and profound political disagreements" with Mr Sunak, but that she had worked with David Cameron, Theresa May and "perhaps to a lesser extent" Mr Johnson.

"The test, I think, of any professional, grown-up political relationship between different governments is whether you are prepared and able to put… disagreements aside and find areas to work on, and even where you disagree, to be able nevertheless to have frank conversations and disagree seriously," she said.

"There has been a deterioration in the relationship between the UK government and, I think, all of the devolved administrations, there has been a lack of respect on the part of the UK government, riding roughshod over the powers and responsibilities of devolved parliaments."

The FM added: "Now, I welcome Rishi Sunak's words about wanting to reset the relationship and do things differently, I really welcome that, but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.

"We need to see from the UK government proper respect and, if that is the case, then I do believe, not withstanding our disagreements, we will be able to build a good relationship."

NHS 'close to breaking point'

Ms Sturgeon also said she told the PM of her "profound concerns" about the NHS ahead of next week's autumn statement, saying the service was "close to breaking point across the UK".

"It is my government's responsibility to manage the NHS in Scotland," she said, "but our ability to invest in it depends on the decisions taken by the UK government.

"We in Scotland are at the limits of what we can do, so we need to see from the UK government's decisions an injection of investment into the NHS to allow it to recover from COVID and get back onto a sustainable path."

Read more:
NHS facing 'tripledemic' as A&E wait times soar

The FM said that her Westminster counterpart did not reveal what was in the upcoming fiscal statement, but he "certainly made the right noises", adding: "I am hopeful that in a very difficult economic and fiscal context, we will see decisions coming from the UK government that help not hinder the recovery of our National Health Service."