I am delighted to support this Budget, which delivers for my constituents in the Scottish borders and all people across Scotland.
Scotland is lucky enough to have two Governments, but their economic records could not be so far apart. Others have spoken very well about what the UK Government are delivering for Scotland, and I want to focus my remarks on how the Scottish Government are failing to deliver for Scotland. The Scottish Government are completely failing to use their vast array of powers to grow the economy north of the border. Neil Gray tried to put a glossy shine on the Scottish Government’s economic record, but I am going to set out some facts to the House.
Last year, the Scottish economy grew at less than three quarters of the rate of the United Kingdom’s economy. By 2022, the Scottish economy will be over £18 billion smaller as a result of the low growth under the SNP Scottish Government, and Scotland has had the slowest business growth of any country or region in the United Kingdom since 2016. Shamefully, there are now fewer businesses in my constituency than there were in 2015, and the blame for that lies squarely at the door of the nationalist Government in Edinburgh, with their anti-business policies and obsession with raising taxes, as well as the uncertainty that exists in every part of Scotland over the threat of another independence referendum, which Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, refuses to take off the table. Scotland now has the highest business rates in Europe, and everyone earning over £26,000 is paying more tax than they would in other parts of the United Kingdom.
I understand that SNP Members are planning to vote against the Budget today, so let me remind the people of Scotland just what SNP Members are voting against. They are voting against a tax cut for over 2.4 million Scots; against a pay rise for 117,000 hard-working Scots on the national living wage; against freezing fuel duty for Scottish motorists and businesses; against a £200 million boost to the whisky industry secured by Scottish Conservative MPs; and against a commitment to growth deals, including the borderlands growth deal. SNP Members like to pretend they are standing up for Scotland. The Scottish Government like to pretend they are standing up for Scotland. The only people standing up for Scotland are the Scottish Conservatives in this House.