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Independence Preparations (Spending)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 11th December 2019.

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Photo of Alexander Stewart Alexander Stewart Conservative

8. To ask the Scottish Government how much it has spent making preparations for independence in the last 12 years. (S5O-03898)

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government set out plans for an independent Scotland before the independence referendum on 18 September 2014 through the publication of the white paper, “Scotland’s Future”, and by holding a number of public engagement events. Cost information on that activity is in the public domain. Our 2019-20 programme for government confirmed that we will update the 2014 plan so that the people of Scotland have the necessary information to determine the form of government that is best suited to their needs. Costs will be published as normal.

Photo of Alexander Stewart Alexander Stewart Conservative

While the Scottish National Party Government has spent 12 years wasting public money by pushing for independence, Scotland’s schools have slipped in international rankings. Will the cabinet secretary commit to not spending another penny on independence, and instead spend public money solely on public services, such as our schools, for at least a generation?

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

I suggest that the member looks at the programme for international student assessment figures, reads the coverage on them from respectable and informed academics—as opposed to that from people who do not know what they are talking about—and comes back and asks me the question again. It would be a better informed question, because it would be a different question.

Let me deal with the question of costs. To date, the United Kingdom Government has spent £66 billion on Brexit; that is the cost to the economy, plus the cost to the Government. Standard and Poor’s found that Brexit has already cost the UK economy £66 billion. That is the result of the decision by the Tory Government—a decision that was not supported in Scotland, which voted against it. It would require a nerve of astonishing proportions for any Tory to talk about the cost of democracy in Scotland, when that is the cost of Brexit. The Tories should be hanging their heads in shame at what they have been imposing on Scotland, a country that now has more food banks than branches of MacDonald’s. That is their legacy.