The “incompetence” of the UK Government in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic will open the road to Scottish independence, a senior SNP politician has said.
Kenny MacAskill, a former Holyrood justice secretary who is now an MP, claimed Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been shown to be “utterly hapless”.
He contrasted this with what he said was a “virtually flawless” performance by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Sturgeon has sought to keep party politics out of her handling of the pandemic, but MacAskill argued the virus outbreak could further the cause of independence.
It comes amid differences in the handling of Covid-19 north and south of the border, with Johnson easing restrictions in England and ditching the core “stay at home” message – which has remained in place in Scotland.
MacAskill suggested the current crisis could give the SNP the opportunity to pursue a “more radical agenda that’s wanted by the wider membership”.
He claimed as Scots emerge from the epidemic, they will be looking for a “better way” forward than as part of the UK.
“A man who cannot even safely look after his own country can’t restrict the forward march of another. The road to independence is open.”Kenny MacAskill, SNP MP for East Lothian
Criticising the PM, MacAskill said: “A man who cannot even safely look after his own country can’t restrict the forward march of another. The road to independence is open.”
But Scottish secretary Alister Jack argued Scotland has benefited from the “financial strength” of the UK Treasury during the Covid-19 crisis.
“Because Scotland is part of the United Kingdom we have benefited enormously from that financial strength of the Treasury.”Alister Jack, Secretary of State for Scotland
He said: “We’re a very powerful economic machine in the UK and I know it is a bit of a unionist message, and I am not shying away from that, I am not embarrassed to say it.
“But because Scotland is part of the United Kingdom we have benefited enormously from that financial strength of the Treasury.”
MacAskill argued the “hope, if not expectation, of leading unionists was that the Bank of England’s unlimited printing of money would show the bounty of being British and the utter dependency of Scotland” had not been the case.
He said: “Instead more and more it’s showing up the incompetence of the UK Government and that actually Scotland can most certainly do better.
“Folk are deciding that there’s got to be a better way and there lies the difficulty for the union.
“With the Tories firmly in charge there’s little sign of change or even moderation. It’s full on for Brexit and ever closer links with the USA.
“The demands that there has to be a better way, and indeed a diverging way, from the UK path are only going to increase.”