Boris Johnson came to Scotland to pledge “no to indyref2” as he and Jackson Carlaw launched the Scottish Conservative manifesto in Fife.
Revealing the party’s prospectus to voters ahead of the December 12 general election, the Prime Minister warned against a “Corbyn-Sturgeon” coalition in Number 10.
He ruled out allowing either a second Brexit vote or a fresh independence referendum even if the Conservatives fail to win a majority and are forced to seek support from other parties to stay in office.
Johnson also falsely claimed that Nicola Sturgeon said in a BBC interview on Monday night that an independent Scotland would “join the Euro”.
The First Minister told the broadcaster her position, if Scotland becomes independent, is to keep Sterling “until the conditions are right to establish our own currency”.
In the Scottish Tory manifesto foreword, the PM said Scotland has been “trapped, like a lion in a cage” by successive SNP-led governments at Holyrood.
Carlaw, interim leader of the Scottish Conservatives, insisted his party would not “betray” those who had voted No in 2014 by holding another independence referendum.
Having a second referendum on that, or on Brexit, would be “brutal” for the country, he added.
‘No to indyref2’
At the heart of the Scottish Tory pitch to voters is the party’s commitment to opposing a second independence referendum.
Painting Labour as flaky on the union, and a vote for the Lib Dems as likely to let the SNP in, the Scottish Conservatives say they are the only viable pro-union choice – “just like in 2017”.
The party says Scottish voters can “send a clear signal to Nicola Sturgeon that they do not want another divisive referendum”.
Carlaw’s party also wants to strengthen the union:
- By “getting Brexit sorted” so that “all four nations of the UKcan move on together”.
- By bringing in a post-Brexit “UK shared prosperity fund” which will “tackleinequality between communities” across Britain.
- By protecting the “integrity of the UK single market” after Brexit.
- By providing a knock-on spending boost of billions of pounds to the Scottish Government thanks to spending rises in England.
- And by continuing to work towards city and region deals for Falkirk and the islands – the final agreements planned as part of growth deals across Scotland which the UK Government has so far spent £1.4bn on.
Oil and gas
The Conservatives will sign off on an oil and gas sector deal to help protect the more than 100,000 Scottish jobs that rely on the industry, the party says.
The Scottish Tories say the plan, which doesn’t have a price tag in the manifesto, will be “transformational” for the north-east and aid in the transition to a net-zero economy.
Boris Johnson is promising to start putting his Brexit deal through parliament before Christmas, with the aim of officially leaving the EU in January.
He pledged in the manifesto that a Tory government “will not extend” the Brexit transition period beyond the end of next year.
The party also wants:
- To leave the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in December 2020 and “take back control of our fishing waters as an independent coastal state”.
- To “free our farmers and crofters” from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) while maintaining existing levels of funding.
- To quadruple thenumber of seasonal agricultural workers to 10,000, many of whom are EU nationals.
- To encourage the public sector to “buy British” produce after Brexit.
The Conservatives claim they will launch an official review of alcohol duty to make sure prized drinks like Scotch whisky are fairly taxed.
In government, the Tories have frozen alcohol duty for the last two years.
Funding for services
The party has promised billions for Scottish public services as a result of Barnett consequentials from Conservative spending commitments in England.
- £3.3bn of funding for the NHS north of the border over the next five years.
- £1.4bn of additional cash for Scottish education.
- The Scottish Tories say they will put pressure on the Scottish Government to use this money to invest in staffing.
- UK-wide, the Conservatives will invest in the security services and in the armed forces to help protect the country, increasing military spending by at least 0.5% above inflation each year.
The Prime Minister guarantees his government would not raise VAT or national insurance.
- On national insurance, the Tories have also pledged to raise the threshold to workers will not have to pay it until they earn £9500.
- On income tax – with rates devolved to Scotland – the Conservatives say they will protect armedforces personnel in Scotland from having to pay higher rates. Those earning £33,000 or more in Scotland pay more income tax than in England.
- Johnson’s party has already slashed corporation tax by 28% to 19%, but a proposal to reduce it further to 17% has been shelved.
- The Tories also claim they will end the so-called “tampon tax” – the VAT charge on sanitary products.
The Scottish party says SNP proposals to devolve migration to Holyrood “would simply not work”.
After Brexit, the Conservatives plan to bring in an “Australian-style points-based system” to regulate who comes into the country.
- Law-abiding citizens of other countries with a good grasp of English and a strong education or qualifications will be prioritised.
- Doctors, nurses and other health professionals offered a job in the NHS will get cheaper visas and fast-tracked entry into the UK, Conservative plans say.
- Student visas and a “start-up visa” will be brought in to encourage talented graduates and budding entrepreneurs to work and live here under the proposals.
- After Brexit, EU nationals won’t be able to access unemployment, housing or child benefit until they’ve lived here for five years, as is currently the case for other foreign nationals.