Scottish election 2021: Rishi Sunak claims second referendum would put Scotland's recovery at risk

Rishi Sunak has claimed a second referendum would put Scotland's recovery from the Covid pandemic at risk.

The Chancellor has called for voters to back the Scottish Tories to help “finish the job” of getting through the pandemic.

In a rare intervention in Scotland Mr Sunak also insisted his priority had been to support jobs.

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He said: “It is vital, for the whole United Kingdom, that we continue to stick together, finish the job of getting through this health crisis, move onto the task of rebuilding our economy and build a better country for future generations.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has claimed a second referendum would put Scotland's recovery at risk

“There is one clear risk to this shared goal and that is the uncertainty of a second independence referendum.

"It would needlessly divide our country and at the worst possible time. Instead, we should be focused on the job prospects of young people in Scotland. They have borne the economic brunt and need the most support.

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"We should be focused on the quality of healthcare and education in Scotland, because you can’t have a strong economy with healthy and high skilled population. And we need to focus on making our streets safer, protecting people and communities from crime.

“The last 12 months has shown that in the darkest of moments, all four nations of the United Kingdom benefit from each other and our partnership.

"The undeniable truth is that Scotland is a stronger nation because it is part of a United Kingdom.”

Mr Sunak also claimed the UK Government had protected one million jobs through the furlough and self-employed income support schemes.

He said: “The UK Government is spending over £400 billion to support our country through this pandemic.

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"And now our world-leading vaccination scheme is delivering a path out of this pandemic and a return to normality for the whole of our country.”

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross was joined on the campaign trail on Monday by Ruth Davidson to launch the party’s final advertising van campaign.

He said: “Now more than ever, we need to stick together and focus on protecting jobs and rebuilding Scotland’s economy using the firm foundations of the United Kingdom.”

The SNP dismissed the comments and accused Mr Sunak of initially refusing requests to extend the furlough scheme.

Now the party’s depute leader Keith Brown has accused the Chancellor of wanting to return to “crippling Tory austerity”.

He said: “Scotland suffered ten years of Tory cuts, which plunged thousands into poverty and forced families to use food banks just to ensure they could put food on the table, we cannot afford to return to another decade of austerity.

“And no-one will forget the insulting attitude the Chancellor took when it came to the needs of Scotland’s workforce, refusing for weeks to extend furlough when we needed it, only to do it immediately when it was required in England. In that one action, he showed that the Tories will always put the needs of Scotland last.

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“As we look towards our recovery, returning to austerity does not have to be the only way.

"We cannot trust the Tories to keep Scotland safe and make the decisions that best suit the people of Scotland.”

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