'Irresponsible nationalism'

Jack says SNP ‘just wants to be different’ on freeports

Alister Jack: Scottish green port will be uncompetitive

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has accused the Scottish Government ministers of once again deliberately “being different” in their insistence on imposing extra conditions on a tax-efficient freeport.

Mr Jack said Holyrood’s insistence on calling them green ports in Scotland and demanding workers receive the real living wage will make the concept uncompetitive.

Speaking at a panel event at the Conservative party conference, Mr Jack accused the SNP of “irresponsible nationalism” designed to provoke arguments with Westminster.

Friction between Westminster and Holyrood over the freeports plan has rumbled since the idea was proposed by the Chancellor earlier this year.

These designated areas will have different tax structures to the rest of the country and already there are eight in England.

However, plans by the Westminster government to set up two in Scotland have met with resistance from the SNP-led government which wants to add layers of protection for workers. The Westminster government says these protections already exist in law.

Because of Westminster’s refusal to impose rules and conditions that do not apply in England, the Scottish government has chosen to go its own way, but proposes only one freeport despite Mr Jack’s warning that it will not be competitive.

Businesses, such as Forth Ports, have expressed frustration over the failure of the two governments to reach agreement, amid concern that the country will lose trade to lower cost English ports. Nine expressions of interest were submitted for a Scottish green port.

Mr Jack told Tory delegates: “We have eight freeports announced for England. I want to announce a freeport for Scotland after a sensible bidding process.

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