PM at Tory conference
May hails UK’s ‘broad shoulders’ in Aberdeen address
Mrs May addressd Tories in Aberdeen
Prime Minister Theresa May today said that the ‘broad shoulders’ of the United Kingdom enables industries such as oil and gas to overcome fluctuations in the economy.
Addressing the Scottish Conservative party conference in Aberdeen she announced the government’s support for ground-breaking subsea technology being developed in the city.
Mrs May arrived in Scotland after her party suffered a mauling in the English local elections, losing 1,300 seats. Polls took place for 248 English councils, six mayors and all 11 councils in Northern Ireland. Labour also suffered a backlash from the Brexit negotiations.
It emerged that former Foreign Secretary and leading Brexiteer Boris Johnson’s offer to address the Scottish conference was rejected by Scottish party leader Ruth Davidson. Mr Johnson will instead visit Aberdeen next week for a campaign fundraiser for Ross Thomson, the Aberdeen South MP and a hardline Brexiteer.
Ms Davidson, the Scottish Secretary David Mundell, and a number of other senior Scottish Tories are hostile to the idea of Mr Johnson succeeding Mrs May in Downing Street, believing it would boost support for the SNP and Scottish independence, and ruin the Tories’ chances of winning power at Holyrood.
During her address in Aberdeen, Mrs May said that seizing opportunities in the so-called “blue economy” will help the UK’s oil and gas sector diversify away from fossil fuels towards clean energy.
She said the new centre will cement Aberdeen’s place as an energy hub for offshore and renewables, generating new skilled jobs and helping in the fight against climate change.
Praising the “outstanding contribution” the oil and gas sector has made to the UK economy, Mrs May added: “It has developed a world-class centre of expertise in the incredibly challenging conditions of the North Sea.
“The UK Government has done a lot to support the sector as the oil price has fluctuated over the last few years. Being a United Kingdom, with the world’s fifth largest economy, gives us the broad shoulders to do that.”
The UK already has a 40% share of the global market in underwater engineering and is in prime position to capitalise on the industry that could be worth more than £100 billion globally by 2035.
Industry will now develop a business case for the hub for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to review.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “The UK Government has shown time and again its commitment to the city’s oil and gas sector and now we are investing in the blue economy to ensure the region continues to prosper with jobs, investment and innovation.”
The conference will see the return from maternity leave of Scottish leader Ruth Davidson, pictured, who will pledge to focus on a stronger economy, better educational standards, and improved public services.
“Last week, the SNP spent their entire conference focusing on independence, more constitutional division and a chaotic plan to ditch the pound.
“By contrast, we want to use our conference to talk about how we can deliver for Scotland in the here and now,” she said.
Ms Davidson will address the conference on Saturday and said it would “fire the starting gun” for the next Scottish Parliament election in 2021.
She said her party wanted to “bring Scotland back together after a decade of division”, and would concentrate on issues such as health and education rather than the constitution.
The Scottish Conservatives currently have 31 seats in the Scottish Parliament – while the SNP, which forms the minority Scottish government, has 63.
Looking ahead to the next Holyrood election Ms Davidson said: “We believe we can beat the SNP and this conference is our chance to set out how we want to improve Scotland in government.”