Jacob Rees-Mogg discusses independence for Shetland Islands
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Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg clashed with the SNP’s Richard Thomson after the Scottish politician accused the Government of “rank hypocrisy” of using COVID-19 funds to gauge opinions on the Union but deny an Indyref2. Mr Rees-Mogg batted back the attack and pondered what the position of the SNP would be if the Shetland Islands sought to become independent from the Scottish government and whether they would allow a vote. The Shetland Island council voted overwhelmingly last September to explore forms of self-governance and potentially becoming a crown dependency like Jersey – a blow to the Scottish economy who benefit from the oil in their waters.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Thomson attacked the Government over reports ministers used emergency COVID-19 funds, which were earmarked for polls on the pandemic, to poll the public on their opinions of the Union.
Mr Thomson accused the Government of “rank hypocrisy” and demanded Mr Rees-Mogg answer for it.
Cabinet Minister Michael Gove denies the reports in The Herald with SNP Commons Leader Ian Blackford calling for a public inquiry when the news broke in late-June.
Mr Rees-Mogg replied: “When important communications have to be sent to the country at large around something such as Covid.
“It’s important to understand how people feel and how they will respond to the messages.
“Though the gentlemen raises the question of governments listening, I recall that the Shetland Islands last September asked if it could look at ways of having more independence, possibly including becoming a crown dependency.
“I’m particularly interested in this question of is becoming a crown dependency because that activity would then come through the Privy Council.
“And of course Shetland Islands would be one of the richest sets of islands almost anywhere in the world if it were able to have the oil revenues that would accrue to it.
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“I wonder what the Scottish Government is doing in response to the Shetland Islands because it’s so keen always to have votes and so on so forth.
“Perhaps it will have a vote on independence for Shetland.”
In September 2020, councillors on the Shetland Islands voted 18-2 in favour of exploring ways to obtain financial and political independence from Scotland.
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Since the Scottish 2014 referendum, the Shetland Islands have seen increased debates on autonomy as some fear Holyrood and Scottish government is too detached from the islands.
Debates surrounding Scottish independence consequently have also fueled talks of autonomy on the Shetland Islands also.
In 2018, around 22,990 people live on the islands.
Large oil reserves exist to the west of the Shetland Islands which provide revenue and jobs for the Scottish economy.
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