Jeremy Hunt: Nicola Sturgeon seeks to divide Britain but I will unite it

Jeremy Hunt writes in today's Scotland on Sunday. Picture: Mark Thomas
Jeremy Hunt writes in today's Scotland on Sunday. Picture: Mark Thomas
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Nicola Sturgeon’s independence obsession is in stark contrast to my plan to invest in Scotland and promote the Union, writes Tory leadership contender Jeremy Hunt.

The more I see Nicola Sturgeon, the more I am reminded of how much she has in common with Jeremy Corbyn. Both gripped by ideology. Both intent on pursuing their own agendas rather than putting working people first. Both seeking to divide rather than unite Britain.

The people of Scotland see through her rhetoric and so do I. She is a nationalist through and through – and nationalism is primarily about division. It’s about provoking grievance at all costs and setting communities against one other.

I bring up Nicola Sturgeon because I’ve noticed that she spends a lot of time talking about the Conservative leadership contest.

It is telling that she would rather shout about “the Tories!” than focus on the vital issues families in Scotland want her administration to tackle, such as improving Scotland’s schools.

There are many things I will do differently to Sturgeon. She offers division, I will offer unity. She is focused on ideology, I will look at the evidence. While she raises taxes, I will back business.

But I will take one lesson from her. She has mobilised the apparatus of the Scottish Government to push for independence. I will mobilise the UK Government even more to improve the lives of Scots.

The difference between us is clear. When I travel around the world, my complete focus is on promoting Scotland and the UK and building relationships. With Nicola Sturgeon, it’s about pushing independence.

The Scottish people have already voted against independence, but I want my Government to put in the work so that every day, more and more Scottish people decide they do not want a divisive indyref2.

Support for independence has stalled, but we need to do more. We must fully respect the devolved settlements and showcase the benefits of the Union at every opportunity. My government’s daily mission will be to prove – not with rhetoric, but with results – the benefits of the Union to the people of Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon’s obsession will not define my Government’s relationship with Scotland. The SNP is not Scotland, so we will do more than argue against independence. As Prime Minister for the whole United Kingdom, I would fight heart and soul to strengthen the Union and give communities across Scotland the support they need.

We should shout louder about the positive investments and the jobs the UK Government is already delivering across Scotland. About the City Deals that delivered the Aberdeen Harbour expansion that will transform the port, the new Aquaculture Hub for Innovation in Stirling that will make fish farming more efficient, the Tontine Centre in Glasgow to help start-ups grow and thrive.

I would do more, by investing in Scotland and promoting the Union to deliver the kinds of high-wage jobs and exciting projects that would become commonplace in Ruth Davidson’s Scotland. I would invest to keep Scotland strong within our United Kingdom.

That means bigger and better City Deals. It means building on that record of listening to local businesses and communities and investing to support the projects they tell us will allow them to grow. It means creating good, well-paid jobs in towns across the country, not only in the cities.

And I’ll bring the whole country along at the same time. I have plans for how we grow the whole UK economy so it’s bigger and better than ever. I’ve been an entrepreneur and put the work in to create jobs and build a company up. As Prime Minister, I would make it a priority to cut corporation tax, revitalise our economy and build the most pro-business, greenest economy in Europe.

That’s why the people of Scotland should trust me to deliver Brexit in a way that is good for Scotland and strengthens the Union. I will stand with Scots in asking Sturgeon to put aside her demands for another referendum and focus on building a UK Government that delivers for Scotland and makes Scots even more proud to be a key part of our precious union.

Jeremy Hunt is the UK foreign secretary and one of the final two Tory leadership contenders