Tory candidates 'should face consequences for backing Brexit'

The First Minister will launch his party’s rural manifesto at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh on Saturday.

Tory candidates should face consequences for backing Brexit, Swinney says PA Media

Scotland’s First Minister has said Conservative candidates should face the “consequences” of backing Brexit at the last election.

John Swinney has criticised Tories Andrew Bowie and Douglas Ross, who are standing to be elected to Westminster again on July 4.

He said their actions of backing former prime minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit proposals at the 2019 vote was a “betrayal” to Scotland.

He was speaking ahead of a campaign visit to the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, at which the SNP will launch its rural manifesto.

It will contain pledges including a rural visa pilot scheme to mitigate labour shortages and an EU veterinary agreement to ease exports and imports.

Swinney said: “At this election, it’s time for political leaders to be honest about a very simple and obvious truth that the public already understand – you can’t claim to back rural Scotland and back Brexit.

“During the last Westminster election, the Tories in rural Scotland shamefully sold Boris Johnson’s Brexit, making promise after promise, and every single one of them has now been broken.

“Those Tory MPs now deserve to face the democratic consequences of that Brexit betrayal and the SNP are the main challengers in every Tory-held seat.”

His party’s rural manifesto, he said, will help communities through the “damage inflicted by Brexit”.

The SNP leader added: “Through providing certainty on farm funding, a Scottish rural visa scheme for agri-workers and bringing an end to damaging trade barriers with our neighbours in the EU, we will always seek to protect Scotland from the damage of decisions taken by Westminster.

“Ultimately though, mitigation will never be enough and that’s why the SNP is the only party offering an alternative to broken, Brexit Britain and the choice to get back into the European Union with independence.”

The Scottish Tories released their own rural manifesto at the same event earlier this week, declaring farmers have been “shamefully neglected” by the SNP.

Tory pledges include delivering £1bn to farming across the UK to allow the sector to use gene-editing technology.

Scottish Conservative rural affairs spokeswoman Rachael Hamilton said: “We launched our own rural manifesto on the Highland Show’s first day where we laid out our clear set of promises to rural Scotland.

“The SNP leader has some cheek to say his party are standing up for those communities. They’ve betrayed islanders with their ferry fiasco. Key rural roads have not been dualled as promised and GP services are closing much faster in rural areas.

“Voters have the opportunity in this election to judge John Swinney for bringing the extremist Greens into government and rid rural Scotland of SNP MPs who backed that disastrous nationalist alliance, which did huge amounts of damage to rural communities.

“In key rural seats up and down Scotland, it is only the Scottish Conservatives who can beat the SNP, end their independence obsession for good and ensure the focus moves onto the real priorities of rural Scotland.”

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