Scotland is being held back by Westminster, Blackford tells Johnson

The SNP Westminster leader clashed with Boris Johnson at PMQs.

Ian Blackford: Scotland is being held back by Westminster STV News

Ian Blackford has told Boris Johnson that Scotland is “being held back by Westminster” .

The SNP Westminster leader made the point at Prime Minister’s Questions the day after Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set out the first in a new series of papers making the case for independence.

Johnson told Blackford however that the UK had worked well together in responding to the pandemic.

And he argued that it would be “foolish” to create trade barriers within the UK if Scotland was to become independent.

“Yesterday, our First Minister started a national conversation on Scotland’s right to choose an independent future,” Blackford told the Commons on Wednesday.

“When we look at nations like Iceland, Ireland, Norway and Denmark, it is clear that our neighbours are outperforming the United Kingdom.

“They deliver greater income equality, lower poverty rates, higher productivity, social mobility and business investment, the list goes on and on.

“The evidence is overwhelming, Scotland is being held back by Westminster.”

He added: “Prime Minister, all those countries can use the powers of independence to create wealthier, fairer and greener societies. Why not Scotland?”

Johnson indicated that there are other subjects that the country is currently talking about.

He responded: “I don’t doubt my right honourable friends’ talents as a conversationalist, but I think there are other subjects in the national conversation right now.

“And they include what we’re doing to come through the aftershocks of Covid with the strongest jobs-led recovery of any European economy, as I said 620,000 more people across the whole of the UK in payrolled employment than there were before the pandemic began.

“And I think another subject of national conversation is investment into our whole country, investment in Scotland, a great investment across the whole of the UK, as I mentioned already in the tech sector.

“And the whole of the UK standing strong together on the international stage and sticking up for the Ukrainians.

“I think that’s some of the things that the country is also talking about.”

Blackford insisted that Scotland is “big enough, rich enough and smart enough” to become independent.

He said: “Stronger together? Has the Prime Minister seen the pound? I think the financial markets are giving a judgement on this prime minister.

“The Prime Minister can afford to live in his own little world, his own little Britain, but people have to live with the reality of a failing Westminster system.

“A cost of living crisis worse in the UK than any other G7 country, an inflation rate double that of France, the second worst economic growth forecast in the G20 next to only sanctioned Russia.

“And now, the threat of a trade war with our European friends triggered by a law-breaking prime minister.

“That is not a vision for the future of Scotland. Our nation is big enough, rich enough and smart enough.

“Isn’t it the case Prime Minister that Scotland simply can’t afford to remain trapped in the failing Westminster system?”

The SNP Westminster leader added: “Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on.”

The Prime Minister pointed to his Government’s economic record and the latest employment figures in making the case for the UK.

“I think that the figures speak for themselves, the UK has record numbers of people in payrolled employment, that’s an astounding thing when you consider where we were during the pandemic,” he said.

“That was because of the UK working well together, as he will remember, with the vaccine rollout, with the testing which Scotland and the rest of the country co-operated brilliantly.

“And he talks about a trade war, what could be more foolish than a project that actually envisages trade barriers within parts of the United Kingdom?”

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