Rishi Sunak: Now is not the time to discuss Scottish independence

Chancellor Rishi Sunak believes Scots will come realise the benefits of the union as a result of the UK-wide efforts to tackle the Coronavirus pandemic.

Rishi Sunak hailed benefits of the union
Rishi Sunak hailed benefits of the union

The UK cabinet minister is in Scotland today visiting firms who have been helped by the Treasury's multi-billion pound bailout of the economy and insisted it shows the advantages of working together.

Mr Sunak also insisted that Holyrood is now one of the "most powerful devolved Parliaments in the world" as he dismissed SNP claims of a power grab over Brexit.

Recent months have seen consistent polling suggest a majority of Scots now support independence.

But the Chancellor said: "I don't think now is the time to be talking about these constitutional questions.

" I think everyone's sole focus and certainly my sole focus right now is doing what we can to protect peoples' jobs and their livelihoods at what is an incredibly difficult time for our economy.

"That's what I think everybody should be focused on. Lets' not focus on these kind of divisive, constitutional questions, lets focus on rebuilding for the future. That would be my overall view."

About one third of Scotland's workforce has been placed on UK-wide furlough or self-employment support schemes during lockdown.

"If I look at the last few months, to me that is a good example of the union working really well,” Mr Sunak added.

" There's a range of things - economic support, the furlough scheme, self-employment scheme, that's almost a million people in Scotland who have been able to get support that way."

He added that 65,000 Scots firms have accessed "discounted" loans from the Treasury to help weather the impact of the lockdown.

"But it goes beyond that - helping an sharing through testing, PPE, the army, building test centres. And now on vaccines, being able to, as a United Kingdom, sign these really important vaccine deals with companies around the world to make sure we're well positioned to benefit from that.

"All of those are great examples of the union working really well."

He added: "I would hope as we go through this and reflect on what's happened, they(Scots) can see the benefit of the union. It's not just the economic measures."

The Scottish Government has hit out at the repatriation of powers from Brussels after Brexit, claiming that Westminster has seized many responsibilities which belong at Holyrood under the devolution settlement.

But claims of a "power grab" were dismissed by the Chancellor.

"I genuinely am puzzled by it and am struggling to see how in any way shape, or form what's happening could be described as a power grab. I would rather describe it as a power surge.

"We've got a bunch of powers that used to be executed in Brussels and in the EU and those are being repatriated back to the UK.

"I think that at last count it's certainly 80 and perhaps more than 100 powers will be returned to the Scottish Government confirming what we already know that it's one of the most powerful devolved Parliament's anywhere in the world.

"There is nothing that's currently being done by the Scottish Government that will now be done in Westminster. That's what most people would understand to be a power grab."

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