BUSINESS Secretary Vince Cable has attacked London for “becoming a giant suction machine draining the life” out of the rest of the UK, in remarks which SNP claim justify calls for Scottish independence.
Renewing his opposition to a third runway at Heathrow, the senior Lib Dem minister claimed that government policy needed to take a more balanced approach across the UK.
But SNP Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie said that it confirmed the case that Westminster is “London centric” and the only way for Scots to escape its pull is by voting for independence.
Mr Cable said the issue of regional capacity had not been sufficiently addressed by a Whitehall-commissioned review of airport provision.
He stood by his determination that expansion of the country’s biggest airport - the flightpath of which crosses his Twickenham constituency - “is not going to happen”.
A new or extended runway at Heathrow and a second at Gatwick were the three preferred options to deal with growing demand for flights put forward by a commission led by Sir Howard Davies.
Mr Cable said more use should be made of regional airports.
“One of the big problems we have at the moment - which I don’t think the report sufficiently addresses - is that London is becoming a kind of giant suction machine, draining the life out of the rest of the country, and I think more balance in that respect would be helpful,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today.
He said he believed a third runway - which was ruled out for this parliament by the Tory-Lib Dem coalition - was “very unlikely”.
SNP: ‘London has damaging influence’
Mr Hosie said: “Vince Cable is only confirming what we all know - that London has a disproportionate and deeply damaging pull on UK policy. Westminster is putting all its economic eggs in the London basket - and now even senior government ministers are admitting that it is causing huge problems for the rest of the UK.
“We know that Westminster is itching to get rid of the Barnett Formula and cut Scotland’s cash by up to £4 billion, and it is clear that Labour’s sights are on even deeper cuts. It makes the choice of two futures in next September’s referendum even clearer. Vote No and get massive cuts from a London-centric government whoever is in power - or vote Yes and create a fairer more prosperous country where economic decisions about Scotland are made where they should be – in Scotland.”