Boris Johnson sends SNP into panic as he mobilises Rishi Sunak to save the Union
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Chancellor Rishi Sunak will this morning meet new Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross today where they will discuss strategies on how the two parties will work together going forward. The Chancellor will also highlight that Westminster provided £2.5 billion coronavirus support for Scottish businesses and £6.5 billion in funding for Nicola Sturgeon’s administration to help combat COVID-19 despite the party’s calls for more.
It comes amid surging support for independence which has seen recent polls show that 54 percent of Scots are in favour of leaving the UK and widespread praise for SNP First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Express.co.uk understands that Whitehall is “extremely concerned” by this surge in support for the First Minister after recent polling figures were presented to Boris Johnson.
Whitehall sources told Express.co.uk that Boris Johnson “stressed the importance of the union” to his Cabinet colleagues in a recent cabinet meeting stressing that “regular visits were needed to Scotland”.
On Rishi Sunak’s visit, sources told Express.co.uk: “Mr Sunak’s visit makes clear the commitment made by Boris Johnson to be more visible in Scotland.”
But Holyrood is concerned that ending the Furlough scheme in October is a “grave mistake” stressing it would cause thousands more job losses in Scotland.
Mr Sunak is the fifth cabinet minister to visit Scotland after Business Secretary Alok Sharma visited Livingston on Wednesday to formally announce a new deal with Valneva who will manufacture 60 million coronavirus vaccine doses at their Scottish site.
Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove and Boris Johnson also visited last month as well as Treasury Secretary Stephen Barclay.
Ahead of the visit by the Chancellor, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack MP, said: “The UK Government is doing all it can to help Scotland’s economy through this pandemic and providing more than £2.3 billion in loans to 65,000 Scottish businesses is a key part of this.
“We are also supporting almost 900,000 jobs in Scotland through the pioneering furlough and self-employed schemes.
“This comes on top of an additional £6.5 billion funding for the Scottish Government to spend on public services and further support businesses in Scotland.
“The UK Government is working hard to help our economy bounce back and we want to see all sectors open again where it is safe to do so.”
Douglas Ross, the new leader of the Scottish Tories, said that it was “crucial” that Holyrood and Westminster work together.
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In a statement to Express.co.uk, he added: “With the Chancellor in Scotland today, I’d urge the SNP to make the same positive noises – we need cooperation not confrontation to win this fight.
“Our recovery from the pandemic is too important to allow political differences to get in the way of positive action.”
However, reacting to the visit, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford challenged Rishi Sunak to extend the furlough scheme into 2021.
Mr Blackford also called on Westminster to devolve several financial powers to protect jobs and secure a strong recovery in Scotland following concerns there was a shortfall in Barnett formula funding.
Mr Blackford told Express.co.uk: “The Tory government isn’t taking the threat to jobs seriously enough – and as a result thousands of people could lose their jobs unnecessarily.
“Cutting the furlough scheme prematurely is a grave mistake.
“By removing this crucial support in the middle of a global pandemic, and withholding the financial powers Scotland needs for a strong recovery, the Tories are increasing the risk of mass redundancies.
“I urge the Chancellor to think again, extend the furlough scheme into 2021 and devolve the powers Scotland needs to respond to this unprecedented crisis.
“Without these powers Scotland will be left with one hand tied behind its back – unable to stem the tide of job losses or prevent good businesses going under.
“Other countries are taking action for an investment-led recovery but yet again Scotland is being held back by Westminster.
“We cannot afford a repeat of the Tory failure of the 1980s.”
It comes after the UK Government’s recently completed a new Headquarters located at Queen Elizabeth House in Edinburgh which is home to more than 3,000 civil servants.
The new hub houses the Scotland Office, the Competition and Markets Authority and HMRC and is designed to ensure that Westminster is at the heart of Scottish Capital and is near to St Andrews House, home of The Scottish Government.
Express.co.uk previously revealed how the UK Government pledged to use a hub at Queen’s Elizabeth House in Edinburgh as a location for Cabinet or Committee meetings.
David Cameron last held a regional Cabinet meeting in Scotland at Shell’s UK headquarters in Aberdeen in December 2014 and Whitehall is hoping to restart this trend by Boris Johnson.
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