Call for partnership

Sturgeon blames ‘aggressive unionism’ for UK discord

We are family: Nicola Sturgeon wants a partnership of equals (pic: Terry Murden)

SNP leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will today seek to break the hostility between Holyrood and Edinburgh by calling for a new partnership of equals among the “family” of nations of the UK.

She will blame “aggressive unionism” for causing tensions between Scotland and England – a day after she was accused of using “dangerous” language to describe the Conservative Party.

Her attempts to shift the source of the cross-border discord to Westminster is likely to prompt a backlash from those who will point out that it is the SNP which wants to break up the UK and divide the family.

Ms Sturgeon was criticised yesterday by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Nadim Zahawi after she declared during a TV interview: “I detest the Tories”.

Mr Zahawi said: “I think that language is really dangerous. I prefer to work with my colleagues in Scotland.”

Today Ms Sturgeon will adopt a conciliatory tone, while attempting to shift the focus of the aggression to Westminster.

The SNP leader is expected to tell delegates at the party’s annual conference in Aberdeen: “I know some see  independence as turning our back on the rest of the UK. It is not – it is about recasting our relationship as one of equals.

“There is a point here that at first glance might seem curious – but it is in my view, becoming increasingly true.

“Independence is actually the best way to protect the partnership on which the United Kingdom was founded – a voluntary partnership of nations.

“Right now, an aggressive unionism is undermining that partnership. Westminster’s denial of Scottish democracy. Full frontal attacks on devolution. A basic lack of respect. It is these which are causing tension and fraying the bonds between us.

“Scottish independence can reset and renew the whole notion of nations working together for the common good.

“England, Scotland, Wales, the island of Ireland. We will always be the closest of friends. We will always be family. But we can achieve a better relationship  – a true partnership of equals – when we win Scotland’s independence.”

The SNP is expected to publish a paper by the end of the week setting out the economic case for independence. It is expected to confirm plans to use the pound in the short term, with a central bank eventually overseeing monetary policy and a Scottish pound.

“It will set out how we can build a new, sustainable economy based on our massive renewable energy resources, and it will show how in an independent Scotland, we can deliver lower energy prices and stronger security of supply,” the First Minister will say.

“Unlike our UK counterparts, the Scottish Government will not be lifting the ban on fracking.

“In the economic prospectus we will set out how in an independent Scotland we can secure fair work.

“We will repeal Westminster’s anti trade union legislation.

“We will end age discrimination for those on the minimum wage. Young workers should be valued the same as everyone else – and with independence we can ensure their pay packets reflect that.

“We will show how businesses can benefit from independence. With EU membership they’ll be back inside the world’s biggest single market. 

“With a fairer migration policy and European freedom of movement restored, they will have access to talented and committed workers from Europe and across the world. And they will have new opportunities to influence government policy through a social partnership approach.

“In short, with independence, we will show how we can break with the low productivity, high inequality Brexit based UK economy.

“And use the full powers of independence to build and inclusive, fair, wellbeing economy that works for everyone – that is the prize of independence.”

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “Nobody is fooled by this attempt to smooth over a toxic campaign to rip us out of the United Kingdom.

“Separation would be damaging both economically and socially, wrecking centuries of partnership, collaboration and friendship.

“Nicola Sturgeon talks of the UK as a family, yet she has dedicated her political life to breaking it apart.”

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