The SNP has welcomed the long-overdue Tory U-turn on furlough support but said it is “far too late” for thousands of workers who have already been made redundant after months of Tory cuts, delays and uncertainty.
Responding to the Chancellor’s statement, Alison Thewliss MP said Rishi Sunak had been forced into this shambolic last-minute U-turn after six months of pressure from the SNP and devolved governments – and said it was “a democratic disgrace” that Westminster was only willing to act when England faced lockdown and not when Scotland needed support.
The SNP Shadow Chancellor said the Tory government had hindered Scotland’s ability to respond to the crisis by withholding funds and blocking the devolution of financial powers – and said the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is to become an independent country.
Commenting, SNP Shadow Chancellor Alison Thewliss MP said:
“This long-overdue Tory U-turn is welcome but it comes after six months of sustained pressure from the SNP and devolved governments, who have consistently called for a full furlough extension but were repeatedly told ‘no’ by Westminster.
“The Chancellor has been forced into this shambolic last-minute U-turn after months of Tory cuts, delays and uncertainty. For many it is far too late. Thousands have already lost their jobs, many good businesses have gone under, and millions have been excluded completely. The UK faces a Tory unemployment crisis – and the blame lies squarely with Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak.
“It is a democratic disgrace that Westminster was only willing to act when England faced lockdown and not when Scotland needed support – proving yet again that Scotland will never be an equal partner in the UK. By withholding funding and blocking the devolution of financial powers, the Tory government has hindered Scotland’s ability to respond to this crisis.
“We await the full details of this announcement, to ensure Scotland will receive full 80 per cent furlough and self-employed support, on current eligibility, with the gaps in the system filled, whenever it is required by the Scottish Government in future. That it will apply equally at 80 per cent to people in all tiers of restrictions, and that Scotland will get its full share of Barnett consequentials from support for businesses and local government in England.
“Scotland shouldn’t have to wait for Westminster to act. Other countries have used the powers at their disposal while Tory cuts and delays have caused unemployment to soar. It is clearer than ever that the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is to become an independent country.”
George Adam, Paisley’s MSP said:
“I’ve said since the beginning of this pandemic that this is not the time to play party politics but the actions of the UK Government this week – going back and forth on furlough support for Scotland – has been abysmal.
“Playing favourites here when the main aim of the Government should be saving lives, protecting the NHS, and making sure people’s livelihoods are saved and there for them when we return to some semblance of normality is disgraceful.
“I am obviously very happy that Paisley buddies worried about their job security and future employment have now been given the clarity they need if Scotland needs to go back into lockdown, but at this point – after months and months of pleas from the Scottish Government and our MPs down in Westminster – it is long overdue and may even be too late for those who have already been made redundant.
“I’m tired of seeing my constituents and the people of Scotland being treated like second class citizens in this supposed UK partnership of equals, and the yo-yo act this past week only emphasises how much disrespect Westminster has for our country and our people.
“I wish I could say I’m surprised by this turn of events but after years of nothing more than disregard and contempt, this seems par for the course. We deserve much better than this so I can only urge those still on the fence about Scottish Independence to take a long and hard look at how we’ve been treated during this pandemic – and honestly, how we’ve been treated for years.
”There are definitely better days coming for us, but I don’t think it will be as part of the United Kingdom where we are not respected or regarded in the slightest.”