Sturgeon: Hammond spending plans outline “chaos” of UK Government
Nicola Sturgeon said the Chancellor was setting aside funds to pay for Brexit, rather than investing in public services.
The spending plans announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond highlight the “chaos at the heart of the UK Government”, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Ms Sturgeon suggested that the announcement made by Mr Hammond on Wednesday only served to outline the “economic mismanagement” at Westminster in the face of Brexit.
The UK is expected to depart the European Union on March 29, however Prime Minister Theresa May has failed to get her deal through the House of Commons.
Ms Sturgeon said: “The Spring Statement underlines, again, the chaos at the heart of the UK Government.
“It showed that the Chancellor has billions of pounds available that he could be investing in public services, but has instead had to set aside to pay for the self-inflicted mess that is Brexit.
“The UK Government’s chaotic approach to Brexit is already undermining the economy.
“The OBR forecast the UK growth will slow and that in both 2018 and 2019, business investment will contract.
“That would represent the weakest period of business investment since the 2008 financial crisis.
“That, quite bluntly, is the cost of the UK Government’s economic mismanagement and sadly there’s no sign that they are about to change course, or at least no sign that they are voluntarily about to change course”.
It’s customary to thank UK Government ministers for advance sight of their statements... pic.twitter.com/UnTsUBtoAx— Kirsty Blackman (@KirstySNP) March 13, 2019
Ms Sturgeon also criticised Mr Hammond over a lack of clarity about whether EU funding to Scotland would be fully guaranteed after Brexit.
“It is deeply disappointing that the UK Government has yet to provide any clarity on future arrangements for EU funding”, said the First Minister.
“Proposals on agriculture, fisheries and structural funding are vague and they provide no certainty for the future.
“The position on the proposed shared prosperity fund is particularly concerning, with no sign of the consultation that was promised in Autumn of last year, nor any meaningful engagement with the devolved administrations on this matter.
“It is crucial that the UK Government urgently commits to replacing all funding streams in full and that we receive our fair share of this to ensure that decisions can be taken in the best interests of Scotland.
“Funding decisions currently being made by Scottish ministers should continue to be made by Scottish ministers”.
In his speech, Mr Hammond said: “The economy, itself, is remarkably robust. It has grown for nine consecutive years with the longest unbroken quarterly growth run of any G7 economy and is forecast to continue growing in each of the next five years.
“An economy that has created over 3.5 million net new jobs, that has seen female participation in the workforce increase to record levels and that is now delivering the fastest rate of wage growth in over a decade.”