Scots Tory conference

NI cut heralds economy ready to ‘change gears’

Rishi Sunak in Aberdeen: ‘we must get the transition right’

Rishi Sunak has taken aim at the SNP for making Scotland the highest taxed area of the UK and hinted that national insurance will be cut further as the economy prepares to “change gears”.

Speaking after the Scottish Conservative conference in Aberdeen, Mr Sunak said he was determined to deliver for the whole of the United Kingdom.

“I’m very conscious that the SNP is making life harder for hardworking people by putting their taxes up,” said the Prime Minister.

“I want to make life easier for people. I want to give them the peace of mind that there’s a brighter future for them and their families.”

He said that cutting national insurance in the autumn statement has meant a £450 saving for someone on average earnings of £35,000.

“It is a Union tax cut, a tax cut for everyone in work and the contrast between what we’re doing and the SNP government could not be starker,” he said.

Addressing the future of the oil and gas industry, he told conference delegates that it was important to “get this transition right” and warned that the SNP and its Green allies would “destroy the industry that we have here now”.

He said a vote for anyone but the Tories “will stop Aberdeen being home to the industries of the future”.

Rishi Sunak in Scotland today: ‘our changes are starting to deliver’

Mr Sunak did not mention the windfall tax, but turned on Labour’s changing policies on energy.

“It says so much about them that they don’t want to ban all oil and gas…they just want to ban British oil and gas with their ban on North Sea exploration,” he said.

“It shows so clearly that their values aren’t our country’s values and, that they put virtue signalling ahead of our nation’s energy security.”

He said Scottish Tory leader Douglas and his colleagues at Holyrood should be thanked “for standing up to this madness.”

Mr Sunak said the country should be “incredibly proud” of the United Kingdom’s record on renewable energy.

“We’re the first major economy to have halved our emissions and thanks to the North East of Scotland, the UK is a world leader when it comes to offshore wind. 

“But we have to get this transition right.  I am not going to damage our competitiveness or load costs onto hard pressed households in an ideological quest to go faster than the technology allows.”

Turning to the Covid epidemic, Mr Sunak said that as Chancellor and Prime Minister, he “wasn’t interested in having a ‘political rammy with the Scottish government’ but protecting jobs, which we did: almost a million jobs here in Scotland were supported by furlough.” 

Rishi Sunak told delegates in Aberdeen that the Tory plan is working

He added: “Last winter, we paid half of the average household’s energy bill to shield people from the impact Putin’s energy price spike. 

“And we have focused on getting inflation down as the most important thing we needed to do to create the conditions for sustainable growth. With inflation now halved, our economic policy can change gears. 

“We’ve already provided a UK-wide £9 billion tax cut for workers across the country and we have cut taxes for businesses. For business investment to the tune off £11 billion.” 

He said the choice before the country is either sticking to his plan that’s starting to deliver “or go back to square one with Labour.”

He added: “Here in Scotland, the choice is even more stark. If Labour would take the UK back to square one, the SNP would take Scotland back literally three hundred years.

“Every day the SNP remain in power is a wasted day.

“Even after 16 different papers on independence, they still can’t answer the basic questions:  What’s the currency going to be, what happens to the pensions, what happens to trade.”

Responding to the PM’s speech, SNP Westminster Leader Stephen Flynn said: “The Tories have trashed the UK economy, slashed Scotland’s budget and sent the cost of living soaring.

“Rishi Sunak should have used his flying visit to apologise to families across Scotland who are skint and scunnered as a result of his government’s appalling record of failure.”

Poll setback

Mr Sunak arrived in Scotland’s energy capital with a new survey for Quantum Communications revealing his party on just 15% of the vote, down one point since January.

The poll, conducted by Survation, puts the SNP on 38% (up two points), Labour on 33% (down one point) and the Liberal Democrats unchanged at 8%.

It found the SNP has a 22-point lead in the northeast of Scotland with almost twice the numbers of supporters than Labour and the Conservatives in third place.

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