UK handling of virus ‘has boosted support for independence’

Labour’s shadow chancellor has suggested the UK government’s poor handling of the coronavirus crisis has increased support for Scottish independence as she called for more flexible borrowing, investment and targeted extensions of the furlough scheme.

An All Under One Banner protest

Anneliese Dodds criticised the “very, very short-sighted” plan to end the job retention scheme in October, which she warned will lead to even higher unemployment in Scotland.

Speaking after a visit to Summerhall – one of the main venues of the Edinburgh Festival – Ms Dodds said there needed to be an extension of furlough for certain industries.

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She also said that Nicola Sturgeon’s clear communication through the pandemic has been in stark contrast to that of Boris Johnson and his government, who have now “switched off” and are taking “knee-jerk approaches” to the public health and economic consequences of coronavirus.

Asked about the rising support for Scottish independence, now regularly polling at more than 50 per cent, Ms Dodds said: “Sadly, we have currently a Westminster government which is not dealing with this pandemic well.

“We have the highest rate of excess deaths in all of Europe, we also have the deepest recession in all of Europe, and I think people are looking at that and are thinking ‘is there an alternative?’.”

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