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The Scottish Government hopes that whoever becomes Prime Minister will begin to treat with respect the views of this Parliament and the people of Scotland on the issues that are raised by Brexit and beyond.
When Theresa May came to office, she said that the Scottish Government would be “fully involved” in Brexit discussions. She then proceeded to ignore the Scottish Government, dismiss votes in this Parliament and disregard the overwhelming majority in Scotland for remaining in the European Union. It should be said that a pretty similar level of disdain has been shown to Wales.
The Scottish Government is always ready to co-operate and work jointly on the basis of equality, respect and trust, but the Tories, instead of treating us as an equal partner, have treated Scotland with contempt, and the on-going horror show that is the Tory leadership contest suggests that the situation will get worse, not better.
The person who today came to the top of the leader board to be Prime Minister has previously indicated his disdain for public spending in Scotland, and one of his competitors—the one who is favoured by the Scottish Conservatives’ leader—has gone as far as to call the very existence of the Scottish Parliament an act of “constitutional vandalism”. Is Westminster’s respect for the Scottish Parliament’s role buried or merely dead?
Indeed. I think that the people of Scotland can see through the arrogance that underpins what comes out of the Tory leadership election. Ruth Davidson’s favoured candidate says that he will not “allow” the people of Scotland to make the choice about their future, even as he and other Tory leadership candidates prepare to take Scotland over the cliff edge of a catastrophic no-deal Brexit. That is perhaps one reason why, in the European Parliament elections, the Tories received less than 12 per cent of the vote in Scotland.
It is not just on the constitutional issue that the Tories are treating Scotland with contempt. Boris Johnson wants to give the highest earners south of the border a huge tax break, paid for in part by a tax increase for people in Scotland. That demonstrates why, more than ever, Scotland’s future needs to be in Scotland’s hands.
Intergovernmental relations are currently under review; the review is being led by the Cabinet Office, at the heart of Whitehall. I do not know what the review’s conclusions will be, but if the review recommends that United Kingdom intergovernmental relations be placed on a statutory footing, will the Scottish Government support that recommendation and, if so, does it follow that, in the Scottish Government’s view, disputes about intergovernmental relations should become questions of law for resolutions in the Supreme Court?
Mr Tomkins is getting a little ahead of himself as to where we are on this. He is right to say that there is a review of intergovernmental relations. However, I say gently to him that I am involved in some of the Brexit work on behalf of this Government, and it is every bit as bad on the inside as it looks from the outside. Therefore, in the first instance, we need to find a way forward that is not dictated by Westminster but mutually agreed across all the Administrations in the UK. If we can find agreement on that, we might make progress, but we are a very long way from that.