The SNP head into the crunch Scottish election next Thursday hoping for an improved result from the last time Scotland went to the polls five years ago, where they were denied an overall majority in Holyrood. First Minister Ms Sturgeon has insisted should her party win a majority of MSPs, they will press ahead with their campaign for a Scottish independence referendum. This insistence comes despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson repeatedly rejecting demands for the UK Government to transfer the relevant powers to Holyrood to hold a second vote on splitting from the UK.
But Ms Sturgeon’s relentless pursuit of Scottish independence has come under brutal attack from Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, who warned several independent reports over the past week have highlighted the devastating position an independent Scotland would find itself in.
In a report earlier this week, the Institute for Government (IfG) claimed Scotland’s current deficit, combined with maintaining the level of public spending, would not be sustainable if the country left the UK.
The think tank warned the Scottish Government would need to increase taxes and impose public spending cuts in order to cushion the blow of independence and the huge impact of the pandemic
In a bitter blow to Ms Sturgeon’s independence hopes, the report predicts the deficit of 7.7 percent in 2018/19 will likely surge rise due to the devastating pandemic, warning the larger the deficit becomes, the harder the case for independence is.
But Mr Ross has claimed Ms Sturgeon is “trying to ignore these independent reports” which warn “our economy would be wrecked, vital public services would be lost to pay for that”.
He also lashed out at the SNP for suggesting a hard border would have to be created between Scotland and England after independence for trade purposes, branding the idea “utter fantasy and complete rubbish”.
The Scottish Conservative leader told Express.co.uk: “In the last week, we have seen several reports about how damaging independence would be and for people’s lives here.
“We would have to see massive tax rises and huge public service cuts to be an independent Scotland.
“Nicola Sturgeon is trying to ignore these independent reports but it is very clear our economy would be wrecked, vital public services would be lost to pay for that.
“We have also heard a hard border would be created between Scotland and England – one of Sturgeon’s who MSPs who has represented the south of Scotland for the last five years seems to think this would be a good thing and could create jobs.
“That is utter fantasy and complete rubbish, but this is what the SNP are trying to say to people.”
Mr Ross also accused the First Minister of not being able to “accept the success of the Union” – comparing the tremendous success of the UK’s Covid vaccination programme to the disastrous one from the EU – which Scotland would look to re-join following independence.
He also listed several other points Ms Sturgeon “cannot accept” – all of which he claims prove Scotland’s strong argument and position for remaining part of the UK.
The Scottish Tory leader said: “Sturgeon still can’t accept the success of the Union – even with our world-leading vaccination programme.
“She can’t accept that 60 percent of people in Scotland have been protected with at least one dose of the vaccine compared to an independent Scotland in Europe would be far behind that but cause vaccine coverage stands at just 24 percent coverage in the EU.
“She cannot accept anything good about the Union.
“She cannot accept the furlough scheme and self-employed income support protected over a million jobs at the height of the pandemic.
“She cannot accept that our outstanding NHS staff, health workers, Armed Forces putting jabs in people’s arms has only been so successful in Scotland because we’ve had the UK-wide procurement and development of these vaccines.
“She cannot accept vital funding to protect businesses has been delivered here in Scotland because the UK Government supported us with an additional £13.3bn to get us through this pandemic.
“These are all strong, positive points about Scotland’s position in the UK that Sturgeon wants to ignore.”