Questions raised over English tax payers paying for SNP crisis
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The live audience at BBC Any Questions erupted in clapping and loud cheers following a question grilling the SNP’s leadership. One audience member, named Alastair McRonald, questioned why the burden to pay for the SNP crisis in Scotland fell on English taxpayers. The panel discussion took place in Haddenham Village Hall, in Buckinghamshire.
Mr McRonald said: “The news this week was that Scotland’s budget deficit was, in percentage terms, significantly higher than the rest of the UK.
“Why should English taxpayers continue to subsidise unaffordable state generosity in Scotland, that they do not receive in England?”
This prompted huge applause from the crowd, as the SNP MP Tommy Sheppard tried to respond.
Scotland’s budget deficit ballooned to 22.4 percent of economic output in 2020-21, highlighting the scale of the challenge the country would face if it became independent.
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He said: “That is not being paid for by the English taxpayer, it is being paid for by the massive UK debt which the current Government is running up.”
Public spending per person in Scotland was £18,144 – £1,828 higher than the UK average.
Mr Sheppard said the complaint was “an argument for independence” as Scotland wants to “run the country for themselves, run things much better and the country would be much better as a result”.
The editor of The Spectator Fraser Nelson responded: “The spending per head in Scotland is something like £1,800 higher than it is in England.
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“That is why you might get higher support for Scottish independence here than you would in Scotland right now.”
On Friday, the SNP and the Scottish Greens agreed to hold an independence referendum within the first half of the five-year parliamentary term.
Nicola Sturgeon announced that the SNP and Greens will co-operate at Holyrood on key areas like the environment and economic development.
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Diane Abbott defended the tax burden, saying it was “what being Great Britain is all about”.
She also suggested that Scotland should be able to hold a referendum, and such a vote should not be blocked by Westminster.
Conservative MP and Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said that the SNP “want the English to feel a sense of injustice over Scotland”.
He said: “Many other parts of the UK run a deficit compared to London and the south-east.
“I don’t want to see Scotland leave the Union any more than I want to see Yorkshire leave the Union.”
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