Scottish Secretary Alister Jack suggests creating bank holiday to celebrate the Union

Alister Jack. Picture: PA
Alister Jack. Picture: PA
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Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has used an appearance at Conservative Party conference to back plans for a bank holiday to celebrate the union by getting rid of one of the 'left wing' statutory days off.

In a Q and A following his speech, the Dumfries and Galloway MP endorsed a suggestion that a new bank holiday should be created to honour the UK's 'family of nations'.

Tory MSP Michelle Ballantyne asked a panel including Mr Jack, and his Northern Irish and Welsh equivalents: "Will the Government create a 'Union Day' bank holiday to celebrate its family of nations."

Mr Jack replied: "Are we replacing it with another bank holiday? We could get rid of one of the left-wing ones and replace it with a 'Union Day.'"

He did not elaborate on what bank holidays he considered left-wing.

After a show of hands and cheers in favour of the plan with in the Conference hall, the Scottish Secretary commented: "It's popular!"

Mr Jack, who replaced David Mundell in the post in July, also rejected claims about difficulties that ports and suppliers could face post-Brexit.

He said: "I don’t subscribe to this theory that very much different is going to happen. I think the ports will all continue to flow much as they do now, to be honest. The idea that suddenly we’re not going to get medicines in, or all these other ridiculous scaremongering stories - I can’t see why."

In his speech to a conference hall he declared 'full' but which photos showed had many empty seats, Mr Jack hit out at the SNP's plans to hold a second referendum on independence and continued the tone of Prime Minister Boris Johnson by declaring Scottish Labour 'surrenderists.'

He said: " We will always fight for our Union, and fight to strengthen Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom, and we will do that with everything we’ve got.

"Because we know that Nicola Sturgeon is once again demanding the right to hold another independence referendum.

It does not matter that the 2014 result was decisive or that she promised that it would settle the issue for a generation."

He also announced plans for a new Growth Deal for Argyll and Bute, worth £25m.

Mr Jack paid brief tribute to Ruth Davidson - who opposed the sacking of David Mundell - and praised the party's MSPs, including interim leader Jackson Carlaw.

He said: "Let me take a moment to thank Ruth Davidson.

"Ruth has done so much to transform our party into a strong opposition to the SNP and their efforts to break up Britain and we should all pay tribute to her, and I know Jackson Carlaw will continue that great work in holding the SNP to account.

"Our hard-working Conservative MPs and MSPs are a far cry from the noisy and ineffective Nationalists."