The two candidates to become the next Prime Minister appeared at a Conservative Party hustings last week in Perth – the only hustings event in Scotland.
Neither Boris Johnson nor Jeremy Hunt were able to articulate any specific vision for Scotland – and both of them committed to taking Scotland out of Europe against our will, even in the event of a damaging No Deal Brexit.
Here’s what else we learnt from the hustings.
Both candidates would seek to block Scotland’s democratic rights
Jeremy Hunt said he would block a fresh independence referendum, despite the SNP’s overwhelming mandate to deliver one. He said he would even block one if the SNP secured another majority in the Scottish Parliament – raising serious questions about the future of Scotland’s democatic process.
The event chair, journalist Colin Mackay, challenged Mr Hunt on this issue, pointing out there was already a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament.
Mr Hunt said: “The Scottish Parliament unfortunately is full of nationalist MPs.”
“That’s because people voted for them,” replied Mackay.
Boris Johnson similarly said there was no case for a second independence referendum, and bizarrely predicted that Scotland would be so pleased with Brexit that the demand for independence would disappear.
🗳 Voters have consistently given @theSNP a mandate to deliver an independence referendum.
— Yes (@YesScot) July 1, 2019
For the Tories, party self-interest comes first
Jeremy Hunt confirmed, yet again, that future UK decisions would be taken first and foremost in the interests of the Conservative Party. He said: “I won’t provoke another General Election in our country until we’ve got more young people to vote Convervative.”
Mr Hunt also said: “On my Brexit negotiating team I would have the DUP, the ERG (which are the Brexit purists in the Conservative party) and the Scottish and Welsh Conservatives.”
Scotland’s democratically elected government would be sidelined yet again.
Both candidates said they didn’t believe the YouGov poll showing 63% of Tory members are willing to see Scotland become independent in order to deliver Brexit. But Ruth Davidson has already admitted the poll shows Conservative members needed to take a “long, hard look at themselves”.
📢 63% of Conservative party members would be willing to see Scotland become independent if it meant delivering Brexit.
📉 61% also said Brexit should be delivered even if it caused significant damage to the economy.
— The SNP (@theSNP) June 18, 2019
Neither Johnson nor Hunt are fit to govern Scotland
In 2009 Boris Johnson described the Barnett Formula, the method of distributing funding to devolved areas, as “a kind of present to Scotland from English taxpayer.”
When challenged by the chair, Boris Johnson confirmed he wanted to “invigilate” Scottish funding and make sure it’s “properly spent”, raising serious questions about how the next Prime Minister might interfere in devolved areas.
Mr Johnson was also challenged on his proposals to raise the tax rate threshold from £50k to £80k for workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
This would be partly paid for by increasing National Insurance contributions, but as income tax is devolved while National Insurance is reserved, this would mean ordinary Scottish taxpayers subsidising a tax cut for the rich south of the border.
At the Perth hustings, Mr Johnson dismissed Scottish criticism of his proposals, saying: “I’m curious that this has occasioned so much comment and dissent.”
He also proposed that a taxpayer-funded advertising campaign, like the “Britain is Great” initiative, should be set up to promote the Union.
🔍 53% of the people of Scotland say that they will back independence if Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister of the UK.
🏴 Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands, or those of Boris Johnson?
— Yes (@YesScot) June 24, 2019