FMQs: SNP and Greens coalition would be 'disaster' for business, claims Douglas Ross

Tory leader Douglas Ross has urged the Scottish Government to “overhaul” its relationship with business as he claimed a deal between the SNP and Scottish Greens would be a “disaster”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during First Minister's Questions.

At his first appearance as Scottish Conservative leader at First Minister’s Questions, Mr Ross said the SNP needed to increase grant funding to businesses which had been hit by the Covid pandemic and that “fundamentally, businesses and the Scottish Government need a reset.”

Mr Ross also raised the late decision to keep Glasgow in Level 3 restrictions, which had been criticised by the Federation of Small Businesses as “the latest in a line of miscommunications around unlocking that have had serious consequences”, while the Scottish Hospitality Group had warned “more businesses will go bust unless they’re given more help.”

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He also quoted Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stuart Patrick who had said yesterday that “the financial support offered bears no relationship to the economic damage now being done by restrictions” and said

taxi drivers were also still waiting on a second £1500 payment promised by the SNP during the election campaign.

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“Glasgow has been under Covid restrictions for more than 250 days and people are waiting to hear what progress is even necessary to start lifting the current restrictions,” he said.

However Ms Sturgeon said: “I know how difficult it is for residents and businesses across Glasgow but I also know how dangerous it would be if we eased restrictions too quickly and allowed a new variant of this virus, that we know is spreading perhaps even more quickly than the variant at the start of the year, to take a grip again.

"That's why there are the public health interventions under way across Glasgow right now... I said earlier in the week we see cautious signs for optimism that that is working, and we will continue to monitor that very carefully."

She said she understood the “frustration” of the business community in Glasgow and added: “There is a range of different support streams for business which will remain in place for as long as is necessary and we will continue to discuss with different sectors of the economy what more support we can give.”

But Mr Ross said: “This government’s approach to business needs a reset. But more than that, it needs an overhaul. Businesses don’t see anyone around the SNP government table who is fighting their corner.

“Instead of bringing in business people who understand how to create jobs, it’s the Greens who may get a seat; a Green party that doesn’t even believe in economic growth and is willing to risk the tens of thousands of jobs supported by our oil and gas industry.

“A holier-than-thou Green party that only supports businesses when they’re flouting Covid rules at high-end bar in George Street. A nationalist coalition with the Greens is a disaster for anyone who was hoping to see an end to the SNP’s anti-business approach.”

Ms Sturgeon said it was important to “support a strong, vibrant sustainable economy” but a “moral imperative” to do it “in a way that meets our obligations to the planet and meet our climate targets. We will continue to ensure we support the country to net zero, which should be a key priority for all of us.”

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