SNP humiliation as Sturgeon ABANDONS major independence project – report obliterates hopes

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In a major blow for the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon’s Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said the idea, which was announced earlier this year, had been shelved because of the coronavirus pandemic. Ms Forbes said there were no plans to revive it.

The plans were scrapped after the annual report on Scotland’s finances found its national deficit has grown again.

The Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) publication highlights how much the country raises in taxes compared to how much it spends on public services.

The report showed report showed Scotland’s national deficit was 8.6 percent of GDP in 2019/20, as public spending north of the border outstripped tax revenues by £15.1billion.

Despite citing the pandemic as the reason for not producing a detailed economic case for independence, Ms Forbes also said the coronavirus crisis showed why Scotland should be independent to control its economy.

However, the Scottish Conservatives said the report was a “hammer blow” to the SNP’s plans for independence.

Murdo Fraser, the Scottish Conservatives’ finance spokesman, said: “The SNP and Nicola Sturgeon herself used to hail GERS figures as all the evidence Scotland needed to separate from the UK.

“Now, nationalists will spend the day denying facts from their own government.

“Today’s GERS official statistics show that the UK union is more valuable than ever.

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“It is worth nearly £2,000 a year for every man, woman and child in Scotland.

“And this doesn’t even take into account the blockbuster support from the UK Government throughout the pandemic, including one of the largest and most generous job-saving schemes in the world.

“This is a hammer blow to the SNP and a massive setback for separation.

“Nicola Sturgeon would have to throw away Scotland’s entire NHS, every nurse and doctor, just to come close to balancing the budget in her separate state.”

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Alister Jack, the Secretary of State for Scotland, said: “The Scottish Government’s own figures show clearly how much Scotland benefits from being part of a strong United Kingdom, with the pooling and sharing of resources that brings.

“People in Scotland, year after year, benefit from levels of public spending substantially above the United Kingdom average, with a Union dividend of £1,941 per person in Scotland.

“That has never been more important than it is right now.

“In the face of a global pandemic, the strength and experience of the UK Treasury is helping people in Scotland and across the rest of the United Kingdom.”

Nonetheless, Ms Forbes continued to make a case for independence.

In a tweet, she said: “Countries around the world are running significant deficits – don’t see any of them reconsidering their independence.

“The difference is they have the levers to do something about it and aren’t dependent on another government’s policy choices.”

Ms Forbes also claimed public finances were facing challenges due to “the uncertainty caused by Brexit”.

She added: “We are now witnessing an unprecedented health and economic crisis.

“Countries across the world, including the UK, have increased borrowing to record levels and, as we emerge from the pandemic, high fiscal deficits will inevitably be one of the consequences.

“That is why the UK Government should prioritise economic stimulus over austerity.

“I will also continue to press for the Scottish Government to be granted additional financial powers to enable us to tailor a response that meets Scotland’s needs.”

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