Sturgeon 'waffling on endlessly' about IndyRef2 says Rees-Mogg
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On Friday, the former Chancellor said Scotland’s First Minister and her ruling political party “pose an existential threat to our cherished Union”. Rishi Sunak’s comments came just days after fellow Tory leadership candidate Liz Truss said she would “ignore” Ms Sturgeon if she became Prime Minister, describing the SNP leader as an “attention seeker”. But Nicola Sturgeon has broken her silence on the statement from the former Chancellor to claim this is nothing she hasn’t heard already.
She tweeted a picture of the front page of the Scottish Daily Express, and wrote: “Wondering how many opposition leaders/wannabes I’ve now heard this from.”
Ms Sturgeon is pressing ahead with attempts to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence in October 2023 – despite continued and strong opposition from the Conservative Party Government.
On Friday, Mr Sunak warned ignoring the SNP would be “dangerously complacent” and warned they need to be “stopped in their tracks”.
The Tory leadership candidate detailed his plans for Scotland if he were to become Prime Minister, and said his Government would be the most active in Scotland in decades.
This would be achieved by sending ministers to Scotland more frequently and reforming the union unit within 10 Downing Street.
Mr Sunak said the latter would ensure “every single” Government department operates UK-wide.
This would be despite key policy areas like education and health having been in the control of the Scottish Parliament since devolution took place in 1999.
The plan also includes boosting the Tories north of the border, providing a campaign manager in every seat at parliamentary elections and conducting a review on how the central party can support Douglas Ross’ group.
Mr Sunak said: “Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP pose an existential threat to our cherished union.
“Arguing that we should ignore them is dangerously complacent.
“We can’t just bury our heads in the sand and pretend they aren’t there – we need to stop them in their tracks.
“That’s exactly what I would do as prime minister – holding the SNP to account for its failings and personally ensuring that the UK Government has a laser focus on delivering for every part of our United Kingdom.”
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But SNP MP Mhairi Black reacted furiously to the comments from the former Chancellor and raged he does not have “the faintest idea” what ordinary people are dealing with.
She said: “Rishi Sunak is the same man who has slashed Universal Credit by over £1,000 for millions, hiked National Insurance payments and has now just admitted he wants to take public money from the areas that need it most and hand it over to the wealthier towns.
“He has made it crystal clear that he stands for just one thing, making the rich richer and the poor poorer, and people across Scotland know this.
“As the richest MP in Westminster, he doesn’t have the faintest idea what ordinary people in Scotland, and elsewhere, are facing daily during this Tory-made cost-of-living crisis as bills and food prices sky-rocket.
“Scotland hasn’t voted for the Tories for more than 50 years, yet we keep getting saddled with Tory governments and Tory Prime Ministers who will only ever work to widen the inequalities gap and try to block Scotland’s democratic right to choose its own future.”
Last week, Ms Truss and some of her closest allies launched furious attacks against Ms Sturgeon as relations between the UK and Scottish Governments become increasingly strained.
The Foreign Secretary labelled the First Minister an “attention-seeker” who should be ignored as she took aim at Ms Sturgeon and her push for another independence referendum in October 2023.
She rejected the idea of IndyRef2, and said of Ms Sturgeon at a Tory leadership hustings event: “She’s an attention-seeker, that’s what she is.
“What we need to do is show the people of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales what we’re delivering for them and making sure that all of our Government policies apply right across the United Kingdom.”
Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney said “people in Scotland, whatever their politics, will be absolutely horrified by the obnoxious remarks that Liz Truss has made”.
He told BBC’s Good Morning Scotland: “Nicola Sturgeon has far more democratic legitimacy than Liz Truss is going to have if she becomes the prime minister, and I think Liz Truss has absolutely no right or foundation to make these remarks.”
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