Nicola Stugeon says first conversation with Rishi Sunak was 'constructive'

New Prime Minister on ‘duty’ to work together
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Nicola Sturgeon has described her first conversation with new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as “constructive” after they spoke on the phone on Tuesday night.

Mr Sunak rang the First Minister at around 10pm and spoke of their “duty” to work together to “deliver for the people of the United Kingdom”.The conversation came on the day Mr Sunak was officially appointed prime minister, going to see the King at Buckingham Palace, and announced his new Cabinet, keeping Alister Jack as Scottish Secretary.

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Ms Sturgeon tweeted: "Constructive call with Rishi Sunak tonight. I expressed hope that we will build a UK/Scottish Government relationship based on mutual respect – including for mandates – and my fear that further austerity will do real damage to people and public services. I look forward to further engagement soon."

Following the call, a Scottish Government spokesperson said Ms Sturgeon congratulated Mr Sunak on his appointment and wished him well. "She expressed her hope that political differences notwithstanding, they would build a constructive working relationship," the spokesperson said.

"She made clear that the Scottish Government would do everything possible to establish such a constructive relationship but stressed that this must be built on mutual respect."

Ms Sturgeon said the UK Government should "address the pressure" and pain being felt by people and businesses as a result of other economic pressures and further austerity could exacerbate the problems.

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It is understood Mr Sunak "assured" Ms Sturgeon the UK Government would engage with the devolved governments ahead of the Chancellor's forthcoming budget statement.

Nicola Sturgeon had a 10pm phone call for new PM Rishi SunakNicola Sturgeon had a 10pm phone call for new PM Rishi Sunak
Nicola Sturgeon had a 10pm phone call for new PM Rishi Sunak

After his call to Ms Sturgeon, Mr Sunak – who also phoned Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford – tweeted: "I emphasised our duty to work closely together to respond to the shared challenges we face, so that collectively we can deliver for the people of the United Kingdom."

The new prime minister’s call to Ms Sturgeon and Mr Drakeford is in contrast to Liz Truss, who failed to contact either of them during her brief tenure in Downing Street. Ms Sturgeon said her only conversation with Ms Truss had been brief exchanges at events following the Queen’s death.

Meanwhile the reappointment of Alister Jack, an ally of Boris Johnson, as Scottish Secretary sparked criticism. Scottish Lib Dem leader and Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: "Alister Jack is proving to be the great survivor but has only done so by keeping his head down and staying silent when people needed to take a stand. Rewarding Boris Johnson's loyalists with Cabinet positions shows that this is still the same old Conservative party.”

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Mr Jack said he was “very pleased” to have been reappointed. He said: “We are facing very significant challenges both at home and abroad, and there is much to be done. We need to bring stability to our economy and our public finances, deliver long term prosperity for everyone in our country, and continue to sustain and strengthen the Union.

“We will build on our track record of supporting families and businesses in Scotland, and investing millions directly into Scottish communities. I very much look forward to working with the Prime Minister to deliver for all parts of the United Kingdom.”