Douglas Ross has told Nicola Sturgeon that her “priorities are all wrong at the worst possible time” following her latest push for Scottish independence.
Earlier this week, the First Minister set out the first in a new series of papers making the case for Scotland to become an independent country.
The Scottish Conservative leader challenged the SNP leader at FMQs on Thursday over the issue, as he warned against a referendum being held.
However, the First Minister pointed to the economic impact of Brexit and stated that people in Scotland are “paying the price” for the UK’s decision to exit the EU.
“First Minister, your priorities are all wrong at the worst possible time,” said Ross.
“It is a crucial moment right now for public services and our economy.
“We’ve just gone through a pandemic, war in Europe has hiked energy prices, there is a global cost of living crisis.
“It’s time for us all to pull together and focus on improving public services, on creating jobs, on restoring schools, on fighting crime, on supporting our NHS.”
Ross pressed Sturgeon over her intention to hold a referendum next year.
He continued: “Scotland has the potential to rebuild stronger. A focus on our recovery is what the Scottish people overwhelmingly want, not a referendum.
“We need a strong government for all of Scotland, but we’re getting a weak campaign group for the nationalist minority that values grievance over governing.
“First Minister, why is the SNP’s obsession with a referendum next year more important than the priorities of people across Scotland right now?”
‘Independence is the solution’First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Sturgeon said that many of the issues highlighted by Ross have been made worse because the country is not independent.
“Independence is about ensuring that we can better meet the priorities of the Scottish people and deal with those challenges,” the First Minister responded.
“What Douglas Ross needs to reflect on is that so many of these challenges that he has outlined are being exacerbated right now in Scotland because we are not independent.
“Taken out of the EU against out will, Brexit is why we are suffering the highest inflation in the G7, the lowest growth in the G20 apart from Russia, it’s why we are seeing constrained budgets.
“That’s Brexit, and that happened to Scotland because we are not independent and people across the country and paying the price of it right now.
“Independence is the solution.”
The First Minister also challenged Ross on his own position, following the resignation of Lord Geidt as Boris Johnson’s ethics adviser.
She said: “Because we are not independent, we currently have a prime minister that even Douglas Ross, well, this is the case today, it might not be tomorrow, doesn’t think is fit for office.
“The Prime Minister, that the ethics adviser, the second ethics adviser to Boris Johnson, who has resigned, has said this morning that the Prime Minister has placed him in an ‘impossible and odious position’.
“Douglas Ross seems to agree with Christopher Geidt that Boris Johnson is putting him in an odious position.
“The difference between Douglas Ross and Christopher Geidt is that Christopher Geidt has the decency and honour to resign.”