SNP: UK is a ‘failing state’ and Westminster has been ‘ignoring’ economic crisis

The UK is a “failing state” and Westminster has been “ignoring” the economic crisis, the SNP has claimed.

The party’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, spoke of the “massive act of economic self-harm” of Brexit, as he opened a Commons debate on Scottish independence.

He dismissed concerns of a hard border between Scotland and the rest of the UK as “project fear”, adding his party “will make sure that we have the answer to the currency situation that delivers for our people”.

Mr Blackford said: “The UK Government has been so consumed by their own political crisis that they have been too busy ignoring the economic crisis that they caused with their mini-budget on September 23.

“Not just ignoring it, but completely blind to the mess that they made. In the last 10 days it has been hard not to notice that the Tory benches are in a state of excited relief that they got rid of a prime minister (Liz Truss) who managed to crash the UK economy in the space of 44 days.

“In their great relief, they seem to have magically forgotten that they were the ones who put her in place, they were the ones that were cheering on her libertarian joyride until the very moment that she crashed the economy.

“They may have gotten rid of the prime minister they put in place, but for ordinary people the damage is already done.”

Mr Blackford described Brexit as an “utter disaster”, adding: “It doesn’t take a genius to know that the timeline for every bit of turmoil in this place over the last few years stems from one place and one place only: the disaster, the utter disaster, of Brexit.

Labour leadership contest
Ian Murray hit out at the SNP’s plans for Scottish independence (Jane Barlow/PA)

“And six years on it has been a disaster by every significant measure. Brexit broke Britain.”

He added: “If Scotland has its right to determine its own future, if our Parliament which has an independence majority can enact that referendum that our people have voted for, then Scotland’s journey to independence, Scotland’s journey back into the European Union, will be complete.”

Europe, he said, “is a partnership of equals”, adding: “The fact is we will keep the pound until such time that a number of economic tests that are met, that would allow us to have a Scottish pound, that’s what will happen.”

He added: “In order to join (the) euro you need to join the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) for a two-year period. Joining the ERM is voluntary, you cannot be forced into the euro.”

Labour shadow secretary of state for Scotland Ian Murray said under the SNP’s plans an independent Scotland would have a “separate currency” to both the EU and the rest of the UK.

Mr Murray said: “This debate is about the broken proposition that you are putting as a prospectus for the independent Scotland and that is what we have demonstrated has holes in it.”

Mr Blackford called on the UK Government to “take the easy decision to bring in a proper windfall tax to tax excess profits”.

He added: “Why not take the easy decision to end non-dom tax avoidance, why not take the easy decision to re-instate the cap on bankers’ bonuses and with all that new revenue, why not take the easiest decision of all and protect those most at risk by uprating benefits and pensions in line with inflation.”

Scotland Secretary Alister Jack said the SNP are not respecting the result of the 2014 independence referendum and said their continued campaigning on the issue acts as a “millstone” around the neck of Scotland’s economy.

“I believe this House should be discussing ways to improve Scotland’s economic growth, because our economic growth has lagged behind that of the United Kingdom during the time the SNP has been in power at Holyrood.

“Why is that I wonder? How much better might things have been if the SNP respected the democratic result of the 2014 referendum and ceased their constant, unwanted demands to re-run that referendum.

“I fear their constant campaign, their neverendum campaign to leave the United Kingdom acts like a millstone around the neck of the Scottish economy.”

Mr Jack told the Scottish Government to do their “proper day job” instead of trying to “break up the United Kingdom”.

He told the Commons: “It’s not just education standards that are falling, there are many problems throughout public services in Scotland – the drug deaths are three times higher than they are in the rest of the United Kingdom.

“And it’s very clear that the reason those failings happen in public services in Scotland is because the Scottish Government get up every day, go to work with one objective and that’s to break up the United Kingdom, not realising they’re a devolved administration and should be focusing on health, on education, on crime and doing the proper day job that people voted them to do.”

Mr Jack said the Scottish Government’s independence papers have “provoked scorn from respected economic experts”, before adding: “One prominent nationalist, and I apologise in advance for the unparliamentary language, but I quote, referred to the recent economy paper as utter pish.

SNP Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) said Scotland in 2022 was  “almost a different country entirely from 2014”, adding: “We can’t go on like this, we must have a referendum to settle this.”

SNP Gavin Newlands (Paisley and Renfrewshire North) argued the UK “is a failing state” with a social security system “that Kafka would have torn up at first draft”.