Nicola Sturgeon ‘won’t compromise on independence’ says expert
Alex Chisholm, permanent secretary at the Holyrood Cabinet Office, was asked how much the Scottish Government had been given to prepare for leaving the EU. Mr Chisholm said nearly £48million of the budget had not been spent.
Responding to Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin at the Public Accounts Committee, Mr Chisholm said: “The figure is in the order of about £200million and that’s going back to 2017.
“I think around about £48 or £49million remain to be spent this year.”
Mr Jenkin then said: “So they under spent on Brexit preparedness.
“What evidence is there that the Scottish Government has given the UK taxpayer value for money for what they spent?”
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Mr Chisholm argues it was up to the Scottish Government to decide what the money is spent on.
He continued: “Well the decisions on how they spend that money is a matter for the Scottish Government and they are obviously accountable for that.
“I can confirm that the full Barnett formula has been applied and they have been given a proportionate amount of funding.
“There was also an additional £20million was also granted last year on a kind of emergency operational basis in support of no deal type preparations.”
Mr Chisholm was criticised for why there had been an “underspend” given then difficulties which have emerged following the end of the transition period on December 31.
He continued: “I’m not sure which parts of that would really be fully described as underspend and which would be carried over but obviously I would expect that if three was an agreement for it to be carried over that the UK Treasury were happy that that was probably going to be needed this year to help with the additional work that needs to be done.”
Now, Scottish Conservatives have attacked Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP ministers claiming they were “manufacturing grievances”.
Maurice Golden MSP, the Tory economic spokesman, said: “A senior civil servant has revealed that around £50million is sitting there waiting to be spent, despite the SNP claiming they’ve already used this money.
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“While SNP ministers like Kate Forbes are trying to manufacture funding grievances with the UK Government, they’re not getting Brexit funding and business funding out the door quickly enough.
“Instead of doing whatever they can to help Scottish exports through this transition period, the SNP are leaving cash unspent and not lifting a finger.”
The Brexit Business Readiness Fund was announced back in 2019 and was set to issue grants top prepare businesses for when the UK left the EU.
This comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced angry backlash as businesses face problems exporting goods to the EU “through no fault of their own”.
After angry seafood hauliers stacked their lorries outside Downing Street, Mr Johnson announced they will receive compensation.
Mr Johnson said: “I sympathise very much and understand their frustrations and things have been exacerbated by COVID and the demand hasn’t been what it was before the pandemic and that’s one of the problems we’re trying to deal with.
“That’s driven in large part by the pandemic.
“Where businesses, through no fault of their own, have faced difficulties exporting where there is a genuine willing buyer, there’s a £23m fund to help out.”
Mr Johnson secured a trade deal with the EU on Christmas Eve but Ms Sturgeon claimed Brexit is going against Scotland’s will.
She tweeted: “Before the spin starts, it’s worth remembering that Brexit is happening against Scotland’s will.
“And there is no deal that will ever make up for what Brexit takes away from us.
“It’s time to chart our own future as an independent, European nation.”
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