Scottish independence support rising as Tories continue to mismanage the economy – Angus Robertson

Jeremy Hunt is risking the UK's economic stability by reducing regulation of the financial sector (Picture: Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)Jeremy Hunt is risking the UK's economic stability by reducing regulation of the financial sector (Picture: Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)
Jeremy Hunt is risking the UK's economic stability by reducing regulation of the financial sector (Picture: Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)
Things are really not going well in the UK economy. According to the Bank of England we facing the longest downturn since records began, and we should expect the bad news to continue next year and carry into the first half of 2024.

The Office for Budget Responsibility, an independent government forecaster, says it expects the UK recession to last just over a year. Between August and October, the British economy shrank by 0.3 per cent as rocketing prices hit consumers, families and businesses and the UK headed into recession. All major sectors of the economy recorded slowdowns from production to construction and services. Meanwhile, the UK has managed to fall out of the top ten list of trading countries with Germany.

Unsurprisingly, now nearly two-thirds of people in the UK believe Brexit is going badly. A poll by Opinium found only 21 per cent think it’s going well. The big Tory answer to the Brexit damage is to double-down by announcing an end to the high standards we came to enjoy as part of the EU. They have just announced “The Edinburgh Reforms” (nothing to do with Edinburgh apart from being launched in the Scottish Capital) but does involve the ditching of EU financial rules and safeguards. In line with the Tory deregulation agenda, they plan to ditch City regulations aimed at avoiding another financial crash.

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The architect of the rules to avoid another financial crisis, Sir John Vickers, says the Chancellor is making a great mistake and may be taking the UK down an “extremely dangerous and wrong path”. He’s warning that key elements of a deregulation package unveiled by Jeremy Hunt could put Britain’s financial stability at risk. This bonfire of financial safeguards is being matched by the Tories’ Brexit obsession with getting rid of thousands of pieces of retained EU law. In Scotland, where the Scottish Government is committed to remain aligned with higher EU standards, there is almost universal opposition to the initiative.

It is hugely encouraging that Scottish opinion is reacting to Westminster’s economic misgovernment and denial of democracy with a boost in majority support for Scottish independence. Within a few weeks of the Supreme Court blocking a Holyrood-initiated independence referendum, the first poll by Ipsos Mori put independence at 56 per cent. The survey, commissioned by STV News as part of the Scottish Political Monitor project, put Yes support up six points since its last poll in May. Two subsequent polls have also shown there is majority support for independence.

According to Ipsos Mori, there is also majority support for the SNP in the next Westminster election, which rises if the election becomes a de facto referendum on Scottish democracy. Projections have the SNP winning almost every single seat in Scotland.

This isn’t what Labour strategists hoped would be happening within days of a long-delayed report by Gordon Brown on constitutional reforms. Having promised Scotland the closest possible thing to federalism in 2014, he is now in actual fact downgrading the Labour offer.

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Scotland deserves better than UK economic mismanagement and Westminster constraints on the Scottish Government budget. Scotland deserves better than underwhelming Labour tinkering which will not reverse Brexit or give the country the full toolbox for economic recovery including powers over immigration. Only independence does that and a majority now agrees.

Angus Robertson is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central and Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary

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