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Pressure heaped on Lochhead over farm payments ‘crisis’
Pressure on the SNP is intensifying over its failure to pay thousands of farmers on time, after a senior farming figure called for the rural affairs secretary’s resignation.
Former NFUS boss Jim Walker said, despite backing independence, he “could never support a party, a minister or a government who have been quite so incompetent and frankly naïve”.
And at First Minister’s Questions today, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said one of the reasons the SNP has been so slow to act on the CAP payments crisis was because it only affected rural Scotland.
Had the IT system failure – which has cost the taxpayer an additional £75 million and left thousands of farmers severely out of pocket – been an urban problem in the central belt, the SNP “would be all over it”, she added.
Delays have plagued the £400 million CAP payment scheme since December, and it was confirmed today that more than half of Scotland’s farmers are still waiting.
That means hundreds of millions in CAP payments are still missing, despite the Scottish Government telling all farmers to start expect payments in December.
And the system has been so chaotic Audit Scotland has had to intervene, and will report on the systems failings in May, having first warned about them two years ago.
At FMQs, Nicola Sturgeon refused to criticise Mr Lochhead, instead pointing out the SNP had asked banks to help out, and had set up hardship funds farmers could apply to.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said:
“Our rural economy is currently being starved of nearly half a billion pounds of funding – because this SNP government couldn’t organise a payments system on time.
“It’s a complete failure of government, it’s damaging people’s livelihoods and the problem is still not fixed – two years after ministers were warned about this.
“The truth is that if this was affecting urban Scotland or the central belt, the SNP would be all over it.
“But because it affects rural Scotland and the Borders, it has slipped off the radar.
“Jim Walker speaks for thousands of farmers and crofters who are looking for action, and the Cabinet Secretary is part of the problem rather than the solution.
“This is why Nicola Sturgeon has to step in and take personal charge of leading rural Scotland out of this crisis.”

Good news for Scotland’s economy despite SNP ‘spreading doom’ on Brexit

Good news for Scotland’s economy despite SNP ‘spreading doom’ on Brexit

Unemployment has fallen substantially both in Scotland and the UK, despite the SNP “spreading doom” on the impact of Brexit.

New figures have revealed the number of people looking for a job north of the border has fallen by 14,000, while wages are also on the rise.

It means the unemployment rate fell to just 3.9 per cent for the period between June and August this year.

The UK-wide unemployment rate also fell considerably, and now stands at only four per cent.

The Office for National Statistics said pay rose by 3.1 per cent in the last quarter, outstripping the inflation level of 2.5 per cent.

The improved position comes despite the SNP relentlessly warning about the consequences of leaving the European Union.

Only yesterday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon spoke in London to speculate about the impact, and reiterated her desire to reverse the June 2016 vote.

However, the Scottish Conservatives have now told the SNP government to stop the scare-mongering, and start examining the opportunities which will be presented once the Brexit process is complete.


Scottish Conservative shadow economy secretary Dean Lockhart said:

“For all the Brexit-related scaremongering from the SNP, it appears the economy both in Scotland and the rest of the UK is performing well.

“This is in the face of an SNP government which is refusing to examine the opportunities of Brexit, and using it only to spread doom and rabble-rouse for independence.

“These figures do fluctuate, but this encouraging news at least suggests there could well be a good future for Scotland’s economy once we’ve left the European Union.”




Notes to editors:


The statistics were released this morning:

Sturgeon’s Brexit intervention all about independence

Sturgeon’s Brexit intervention all about independence

Nicola Sturgeon’s latest intervention on Brexit is motivated solely by the break-up of Britain, the Scottish Conservatives have said.

Speaking in London today, the First Minister reiterated her desire for the June 2016 vote to leave the European Union to be ignored, or at least for the UK to remain in the single market and customs union.

She also claimed any concession made to Northern Ireland should apply to Scotland.

However, Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins said the SNP leader’s only reason for intervening was to push the case for another referendum on Scottish independence.

He pointed out there was nothing new in today’s speech, or indeed the accompanying paper being published by the SNP government.

Ms Sturgeon’s speech came on the same day as a new campaign for Scottish independence was launched.


Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins said:

“There was absolutely nothing new in this speech from Nicola Sturgeon.

“As ever, she is not intervening for the sake of a good Brexit deal, or for the good of the Northern Ireland border issue.

“She made this speech in the hope of drumming up the prospects for Scottish independence.

“From the second the Brexit vote became clear, that has been the SNP government’s only motivation on this issue.

“If the SNP doesn’t back a deal, it is automatically supporting a no-deal scenario – something the nationalists have admitted would be bad for Scotland.

“And, of course, they don’t care if outcomes are bad for Scotland, so long as they’re good for the prospects of another independence referendum.

“This was just the latest opportunistic contribution from Nicola Sturgeon, whose behaviour on the Brexit process has been selfish and utterly shameless.”


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