Coronavirus response “underlines” diverging political direction of Scotland and UK says SNP MP

The Coronavirus pandemic has "underlined" the diverging political direction of Scotland which will see the "political disintegration of the UK", a senior SNP MP has said.

Angus MacNeil says phase 2 of UK "disintegration" is coming
Angus MacNeil says phase 2 of UK "disintegration" is coming

Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil claimed that the union "isn't really wanted by the English" during a virtual conference hosted by the Institute for Economic Affairs today.

But Tory MP Andrew Bowie told the event that the response to the pandemic shows the case for the union has “never been stronger.”

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Mr MacNeil said: "The UK has been diverging since 2014 if not before."

He described the 45% support for independence six years ago in the referendum as a "damning indictment" of the UK Government, adding some polls are now showing this at 52%.

Mr MacNeil added: “This is happening anyway, it's something we see with young people as demographics are shifting and it's phase 2 of the disintegration of the UK.

"Ireland has already left and with Ireland going there's nobody in Ireland, no political move in Ireland...about rejoining the UK."

"Coronavirus is probably underlining the movement that's happening anyway," he said.

"We know the union isn't really wanted by the English either - Brexit is more important to them.

"It's a second or third order issue, is the United Kingdom."

He added: “I think Coronavirus and the reaction to doing things differently shows just a nervousness that there is within sections of the UK."

But Mr Bowie, the MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine played down the constitutional significance of the virus.

He added: "I actually don't think in all honesty that Coronavirus will have any effect on the integrity of the United Kingdom whatsoever, positive or negative.

"That's not saying that I don't think that the economic case for independence has ever been weaker or the case for our union has ever been stronger.

"That certainly I think has been proven by how we've fought the pandemic."

Scots are split equally in three directions on the constitution, he said, with a third backing independence, another third supporting the union and a further third in the middle who are undecided.

He insisted this will not change as a result of the response to the pandemic.

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