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SNP: Union flag on UK driving licence is 'insensitive'

Scottish unionists claims SNP need to respect referendum outcome

By Joanne Sweeney

The Union flag on the new British driving licence has re-ignited the Scotland independence row between the SNP and pro-union Scots.

Scottish Unionists have accused Joan McAlpine of the SNP of refusing to accept the Scottish independence referendum result after she called putting the Union flag on as "intolerant" and "insensitive."

The new look licence has also caused controversy in Northern Ireland after Enivronment minister Mark H Durkan opted out of the development - a move which has angered the DUP and Ukip.

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson criticised the decision as "sectarian" and "anti-British" while Ukip representative Henry Reilly called it "insulting".

It was first mooted in 2012 when SDLP party colleague Alex Attwood was Environment minister.

It was announced by UK Transport minister Claire Perry who said : "Celebrating Britain strengthens our sense of national identity and our unity. I will feel proud to carry my new licence and I hope others will too.”

However, Ms McAlpine, a former aide to Alex Salmond,  told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme: “This is a political decision and the UK Government have been quite explicit in saying this is a political decision.

“Well a lot of people don’t share Claire Perry’s sense of identity and to impose it on people seems to have abandoned what we were told was a respect agenda after the independence referendum, when a large number of people voted Yes, not to be part of her sense of national identity.”

Alex Johnstone, a Scottish Tory MSP, said: “What part of the word No does Joan McAlpine not understand? The majority of Scots gave their support for the union – and it’s right that is recognised on new driving licences.

“Instead of provoking petty squabbles, the SNP should unite behind the decision made by the people of Scotland in September.”

Tavish Scott, a Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP, said: "I don't remember the SNP complaining when they spent tens of thousands of pounds on Saltires."

Scotland voted by 52% to 48% to remain within the Union in September.

The DVLA has  ruled out the possible inclusion of an optional Saltire as it would be "extremely expensive and complex."

The new look licence - with both the British and European Union flags on it - will be issued to people applying for new licences or updating a new address.

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