Sunak condemns SNP’s record as he vows to ‘deliver what I promise’

·5-min read

Rishi Sunak has condemned the SNP for its “record of failure”, as he insisted the Conservatives will deliver for Scotland.

The Prime Minister said he is confident he will meet five key aims he set out earlier this year, adding that “Scotland is at the heart of my plans for delivery”.

Mr Sunak addressed the Scottish Tory conference in Glasgow on Friday morning.

He said: “I think that is where all of us can demonstrate to the people of Scotland what we are doing to help people.

“At the beginning of the year I set out five priorities: to halve inflation; grow the economy; reduce debt; cut waiting lists; and to stop the boats.

“I know we can move forward and make sure those things happen.

“I am confident that that is what we will do.

“I know that because I only promise what I can deliver and I will deliver what I promise.

“And Scotland is at the heart of my plans for delivery.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak addressed the first day of the Scottish Conservative conference in Glasgow (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak addressed the first day of the Scottish Conservative conference in Glasgow (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The Prime Minister highlighted £1 billion being spent in Scotland as part of his Government’s levelling up agenda, and plans to create two new freeports north of the border where it is hoped tax breaks will attract investment, increase trade and create jobs.

He told party members: “Under my leadership we will never, ever forget we are the Conservative and Unionist Party, and working together, all of us proudly as Conservatives, we will deliver for each and every part of our precious union.”

He contrasted the actions of his party with the SNP Scottish Government and its “record of failure”.

Nicola Sturgeon stepped down as first minister and SNP leader last month, and since then the party has been rocked by a police investigation into its finances which saw her husband – and former party chief executive – Peter Murrell arrested, before being released without charge.

As part of the investigation, police were seen removing a luxury campervan said to be owned by the SNP, with Mr Sunak quipping that Ms Sturgeon is currently learning to drive “because someone’s got to drive that motorhome after all”.

Mr Sunak said: “If the SNP can’t sort out the mess Nicola Sturgeon left their party, how on earth can they sort out the mess Nicola Sturgeon has left Scotland’s public services in?

“What we need is a government in Holyrood that is focused on Scottish people’s real priorities, not constitutional abstractions.

“The SNP may not be able to find some auditors for their party, but we can certainly audit their record in government.

“Just take a look at the education attainment gap, the very thing Nicola Sturgeon said they should be judged on, a gap widening.

“Violent crime rising, and they can’t even deliver the ferries they promised the islanders. It is a record of failure.”

The Prime Minister went on to highlight Conservative opposition to the Scottish Government’s proposed deposit return scheme for drinks cans and bottles as showing the Tories are “the ones who have got the Scottish people’s interests at heart”.

Douglas Ross and Rishi Sunak
Mr Sunak during a Q and A with Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross on the first day of the Scottish Conservative party conference (Andrew Milligan/PA)

First Minister Humza Yousaf has been forced to delay the launch of the scheme, pushing it back from August to March next year, amid concerns from businesses about how it would operate.

Mr Sunak said the Scottish Conservatives had taken the lead in “calling out that scheme was not something that was going to be workable, that is was going to increase costs for Scottish consumers, for businesses, reduce choice”.

He said that “sustained campaign” had ultimately resulted in the Scottish Government having delayed the scheme, with changes being made.

“That just shows that we are the ones who have got the Scottish people’s interests at heart, we understand their priorities,” Mr Sunak said.

He also told the conference the Tories were the “only party that unequivocally supports the North Sea industry”.

Mr Sunak said despite the war in Ukraine having highlighted problems with “being dependent on places like Russia for fossil fuels”, the other political parties “think we should ignore what we have at home”.

Rival parties’ focus on renewable energy, rather than oil and gas from the North Sea, “ignores the economic benefits, the jobs, the energy security and increases our reliance on foreign dictators for the energy we know we need for the next couple of decades”, the Prime Minister added.

He said: “In this incredibly important area we are absolutely the party that is going to deliver and it is going to be incredibly exciting for Scotland.”

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said: “The Tories have no mandate in Scotland. Rishi Sunak should be apologising for the disastrous mess the Tory government has made of the economy – and for the damage he’s caused to families, who are paying through the nose for Brexit and the Tory cost-of-living crisis.

“The SNP is the only party offering a real alternative to the Tories. Voting SNP is the best way to beat the Tories in Scotland at the next election – and the only way to get rid of Westminster Tory governments for good with independence.”

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said the Prime Minister’s speech was “without vision and without energy”.

“The people of Scotland know what this Tory government means – sleaze at the highest level while people go hungry and face soaring bills,” she added.