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SNP attacked over centralisation

Davidson demands more powers for local government

Ruth Davidson
Davidson: FM is talking Scotland down

Threat to Scotland ‘is from English cities’

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson launched an attack on SNP “centralisation” and said her party wants to see more power cascade down to town halls.

Addressing her party’s conference in Glasgow, she said that empowering local government was the best solution to the growing power of cities in England.

“I speak to job creators across Scotland every week. And they are worried,” she said..”worried about an SNP Government gaining ever more power over our economy yet without an idea how to use it.”

There was increasing centralisation which was “not good enough”, she said.

“You know where our challenge is coming from in local government? It’s coming from thriving metropolitan areas in Manchester, in Birmingham, in Liverpool.

“And what Scotland needs isn’t more local powers flowing to our First Minister: we need more powerful local leaders in OUR great cities to take on the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine.

“Scotland’s growth levels are lagging behind the UK and have done so for the last three years.

“More centralisation isn’t the answer to this – in fact, centralisation is the cause of this.

“So in our manifesto for the Local Government elections we will be setting out plans to empower councils and give them a renewed purpose.

“With a greater role to deliver economic growth – with incentives so local areas keep the rewards from that growth.

“And, crucially, given more control over the way money is raised and spent.

“Real devolution: not just to Holyrood, but to the communities and cities that matter.”

She said the difference between her and Nicola Sturgeon was that “I want us to make a success of Brexit. She wants Britain to fail”.

She urged the SNP to “stop talking Scotland down – and go out to the world and talk our prospects up for once”.

Ms Davidson added that “none of us – Unionist or Nationalist – serve anyone by re-fighting old battles.”

Mundell to SNP: ‘Join Team UK to get best Brexit deal’

David MundellEarlier, Scottish Secretary David Mundell  appealed to the Scottish nationalists to work with Westminster as “Team UK” to get the best deal in the Brexit talks.

Mr Mundell said that despite their differences, the two governments shared “a lot of common ground”. 

Addressing the Scottish Conservatives conference in Glasgow, he said that in many areas they wanted the same thing.

“We are committed to protecting and enhancing workers’ rights. We are committed to bringing the current framework of environmental regulation into domestic law with our Great Repeal Bill.

“We want to continue our close collaboration with European partners on science and innovation. We will continue to work with the EU on security, to fight terrorism and uphold justice across Europe.

“Free Trade with the EU is also the Scottish Government’s priority. We want the freest trade possible between the UK and the EU, and we will pursue an ambitious Free Trade Agreement.

“And we are determined to avoid a sudden ‘cliff edge’ exit from the EU that would prove disruptive for business. That’s why we will seek a phased process of implementation where necessary.

“We’ve also been very, very clear on the status of EU nationals living in Scotland and the rest of the UK. We want to secure their right to stay as quickly as we can, and also secure the rights of UK citizens living and working in the rest of the EU.

“And I was glad even Alex Salmond said on Thursday night that he agreed EU nationals would be protected.

“So even where the Scottish and UK governments disagree about the means, we largely seek the same ends. We want the same outcomes.

“And I genuinely believe we can do what the people of Scotland want and expect us to do: work together to deliver the best deal for Scotland and the whole of the UK.”

Mr Mundell questioned what he called the “wrong-headed” claim by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that Brexit was an attack on devolution.”

“Here is the great irony. There will be more powers for Holyrood because of Brexit. Powers that the SNP would hand back to Brussels in a heartbeat,” he said. 

“Funny, isn’t it, how they won’t remind Scotland’s fishermen they would be back in the Common Fisheries Policy under SNP policy. Or that farmers would keep the bureaucracy of the Common Agricultural Policy.

“The SNP need to give up the games. Come with us. Work with us. Together as one Team UK. Because that is how we will get the best deal from the EU.”

Mr Mundell said one of the UK government’s guiding principles in the talks will be to ensure that there are no new barriers to doing business within the UK.

“We have pledged to maintain the necessary common standards and frameworks for our own domestic market, not just to help business within the UK but to empower us to strike the best trade deals around the world.

“For Scotland, that is essential. The Scottish Government’s own figures tell us that Scotland’s trade with its own UK market is worth four times its exports to the EU.”

“It is an inconvenient truth for the Scottish Government, but a truth nonetheless.”

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