South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has highlighted a threat to the Scottish Government’s ability to protect industry and jobs from the Tory’s Brexit bill.
The SNP MSP raised the issue during a Ministerial Statement by the Minister for the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs, Mike Russell in the Scottish Parliament last week. She asked him what he thought the implications of the UK Government’s Internal Market white paper would be for the Scottish Government’s ability to protect strategic infrastructure, jobs and industry here in Scotland.
Mr Russell’s response made it clear that he believes the Scottish Government’s powers to intervene with state aid were under threat from the Tory’s Brexit power grab.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said,
“I raised the issue of the UK Government’s intention to grab powers to set laws around state aid and asked him what he thought the consequences would be.
“Mr Russell said that having an effective state aid regime is essential and has played a role in the Scottish Government’s industrial strategy and in developing and building buinesses in Scotland. He added that the reason it was devolved in the first place is because it should be carried out by those with a knowledge of the Scottish economy.
“We know from past experience that the UK Government cannot be trusted to run a subsidy system for companies that puts Scotland first. The crisis at the Pinney’s factory in Annan revealed that the UK Government had subsidised a fish processing plant in Grimsby that took jobs away from Annan.
We also saw in the past how a UK Tory government allowed the Scottish steel industry to be run down, showing that they either don’t know or don’t care about many aspects of the Scottish economy.
“Recent examples of Scottish Government intervening to save infrastructure crucial to the Scottish economy include rescuing Prestwick Airport and the Ferguson shipyards from collapse. I don’t have confidence that either would have been safe in the UK Government’s hands nor do I believe that the Tories would prioritise Scottish companies if there were clashes of interests across the border.
“Mike Russell also warned that Dominic Cummings’ plan could be to stop ANY government intervention whatsoever and that’s a real concern. lt would leave the Scottish Government powerless to intervene to protect vital strategic industries and jobs here in Scotland.
“It’s clear that Scottish interests aren’t being served by the Tory government in Westminster so it’s very worrying indeed that they’re also removing Scotland’s ability to protect itself.”