During a meeting in Whitehall last week, a senior Home Office official actually said: “We look upon Scotland as the ultimate laboratory.” It’s absolutely gob-smacking.
The comment, which was made about plans to follow the “Scottish model” on firearm licensing, shows the real contempt of this UK Government.
It’s astonishing that three decades after Margaret Thatcher used Scotland as a guinea pig with the Poll Tax, the Tories still seem to think they can do anything they want to Scotland and get away with it.
The attitude on display at this meeting was not a one-off, either.
On the same day, a Tory minister taunted MPs by likening the Scottish Parliament to an English county council during a committee meeting in Parliament.
My colleague Pete Wishart MP was discussing the limitations we have on boosting Scotland’s economy because immigration is a reserved matter to Westminster and Holyrood have no control over it.
The Minister of State for Immigration, Caroline Nokes, unbelievably, said: “We’re not going to grant the ability to the Scottish Government that I might not also be granting to Lincolnshire County Council.”
The arrogance of the minister was astounding. The Scottish people voted overwhelmingly for a devolved parliament and Holyrood is now the centre of Scottish political life.
The idea that a national devolved parliament is at all comparable with a county council is as ridiculous as it is offensive – and it shows the complete contempt the Tories still have for devolution.
As a minister, we can only assume that Nokes was speaking on behalf of the Government.
This sort of attitude is especially worrying when it comes to the UK government negotiating Brexit.
Scotland is currently facing a power grab on devolved powers when the UK leaves the EU.
We have just one year until Brexit but the UK government have so far failed to meet their commitment that the Scottish Government and other devolved administrations should oversee the negotiations, and that objectives should be agreed between the different countries that make up the UK. Brexit is the biggest threat facing us – it will affect livelihoods, local industries and the cost of our weekly food shop.
Yet while the Scottish Government have published their own analysis and are doing everything within their power to protect the Scottish economy, the UK Government are ignoring the devolved administrations and working at a snail’s pace.
It’s perhaps not surprising that when Theresa May visited Scotland last Thursday, she was here for just an hour, arriving and leaving before lunchtime, apparently keeping journalists at a distance.
This arrogant attitude to Scotland from a Tory Prime Minister is nothing new, but since the EU referendum, it has been the cornerstone of this Government’s approach.
And with just one year to go, May still refuses to tell us exactly what Brexit will mean to our everyday lives. This isn’t good enough.
This article originally appeared in the Daily Record.
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