The veteran TV presenter tore apart SNP MSP James Dornan’s arguments that Scotland could go its own path and thrive in the future. The row erupted after Mr Neil responded to a tweet from an independence supporter who claimed Boris Johnson’s Government was guilty of a “catastrophic failure” and had “shown great mismanagement of Scotland’s economy”.
Mr Neil said rather than mismanagement, Scotland’s financial woes were down to the fact that it “spends £15bn more than it gathers in taxes – and Westminster makes up the difference”.
Mr Dornan stuck his head into the debate, saying: “We are assigned spending for all sorts that we have no control over, do not want or do not benefit from.”
Mr Neil told the MSP that Scots “don’t contribute anything like enough in taxes to cover spending”.
He added: “Total Scottish tax take is £66bn. Total state spending is £81bn. Shortfall: £15bn.
“A gap not filled from your money. You should know this: they’re Scot Gov stats.”
Mr Neil went on to point out that Scotland’s spending per capita is above the UK average, and in doing so, delivering a hammer blow to Nicola Sturgeon’s independence dream.
The gap between tax income and spending has widened to become more than three times larger than the UK as a whole.
The deficit shot up to £15bn in 2019-20 and was the result of a row over Scotland’s independence during this week’s First Minister’s Questions between Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard.
Ms Sturgeon said: “If we were independent we wouldn’t need to go cap in hand to the UK government pleading.”
Scotland’s Finance Secretary Kate Forbes lashed out in an interview with ITV on Thursday over Scotland’s deficit.
She said: “Across the world countries operate with deficits. That’s not new, that’s not radical.”
When the ITV presenter pointed out that many nations do not have a deficit as high as Scotland’s, Ms Forbes shot back: “Well actually, on the contrary, we have just seen unprecedented borrowing from countries around the world, small and large countries, including the UK Government whose deficit is set to rise to £372 billion this year.”
On Friday, Scottish police will be given new powers to break up house parties involving more than 15 people from more than one household.
Ms Sturgeon said the temptation to hold big indoor gatherings will be greater during the cold autumn and winter months ahead, and evidence shows they pose a “significant transmission risk”.
But she said the new powers will be a “last resort only” for use in the “most blatant breaches of the guidance”, and will be reviewed every three weeks.
Published at Thu, 27 Aug 2020 19:49:00 +0000