Parties at loggerheads
Mackay faces budget defeat as opposition talks break down
Derek Mackay needs support from at least one party (pic: Terry Murden DB Media Services)
Scottish Finance Secretary Derek Mackay is facing a battle to save his Budget this week after talks with opposition parties broke down.
Mr Mackay has appealed for the Greens and LibDems to unite behind his 2019/20 budget when it is debated at Holyrood on Thursday.
Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie wants the SNP to set aside the issue of independence so that a budget deal can be done.
Mr Rennie said: “We have made a simple request of the SNP Government. If they park the issue of independence for the rest of this Parliament then we could reach a comprehensive and progressive deal on the budget.
“We have repeatedly and consistently made that constructive offer so that Scotland can have a stable Scottish Government that focuses on the big challenges rather than getting bogged down with yet another massive and disruptive constitutional debate.
“Unfortunately, the SNP have declined our offer because they have a one-track mind. Despite telling everyone that education is their guiding mission, independence always comes first before anything else.
“Our offer includes costed recommendations on mental health, education and local government.
“We understand that the government has problems with the reliability of the Greens so if Derek Mackay wants to talk he has my number.”
But the minority administration faces almost certain defeat, after the Greens warned that council cuts made it “impossible” for the party to support it.
Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “If Derek Mackay thinks he can reach agreement with another opposition party in the next few days, he will have to hurry. But if he still wants Green support, he knows we will not accept the scale of cuts to local services that even his own SNP colleagues in councils around the country are telling him cannot be tolerated.”
Mr Mackay said the £11.1 billion settlement for local government represents a real terms increase in both revenue and capital funding, and a real terms increase in total overall support.
He said the Scottish Parliament should unite behind the plans to provide certainty on public spending and economic investment amid ongoing Brexit uncertainty.
Mr Mackay said his “door remains open” to opposition parties to secure a deal and ensure the budget passes.