Belfast Telegraph

Union Jacks to be displayed on public infrastructure projects

Union Jack flags will be displayed on roads, bridges and other publicly funded infrastructure projects throughout Britain under Government plans which may be seen as provocative by supporters of Scottish independence.

Plaques featuring the union flag alongside the message "Funded by UK Government" will "proudly adorn infrastructure investments from roads in Cornwall to broadband in Caithness", ministers will announce tomorrow.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said it was important to "recognise the contribution of the UK taxpayer".

But Scottish nationalists are likely to see the plaques as a deliberate attempt to shore up support for the union.

Following last year's Scottish independence referendum, in which nearly half (45%) of voters backed a breakaway from the union, the Scottish National Party (SNP) has seen its membership and support soar.

With voters in Scotland set to play a decisive role in May's general election as support drifts to the SNP, the plaques could be seen as a move to counter the nationalist surge.

Mr Alexander said: "I've prioritised infrastructure in this Government because only long-term investments will support UK businesses and get the public finances and economy on a firm footing.

"It's only right that we recognise the contribution of the UK taxpayer in supporting this economic growth, which is why I'm delighted to launch these Union Jack plaques, which will proudly adorn infrastructure investments from roads in Cornwall to broadband in Caithness."

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said: "As part of our long-term economic plan, this Government is investing in our nation's physical and digital infrastructure. Whether it's High Speed 2 investment in the northern powerhouse or superfast broadband connecting Cornwall and Wales, all future infrastructure projects funded for by UK taxpayers will carry this simple UK flag branding."

SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie described the plaques as a "silly gimmick" which did not disguise the coalition's cuts to overall infrastructure spending and Scotland's capital budget.

He said: "Putting a sticker on projects is a silly gimmick by Danny Alexander and his Tory bosses, which can't cover over the fact that his government at Westminster has slashed infrastructure spending - destroying jobs and delaying economic recovery - including cutting Scotland's capital budget by a quarter.

"Despite this, the Scottish Government is delivering over £11 billion of investment over the three years to 2015/16. Instead of the huge cuts imposed by Danny Alexander and the Tories, people across the UK would prefer more infrastructure investment, and fewer gimmicks."

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