Humza Yousaf to attack Labour and Tories over Brexit

First Minister Humza Yousaf will use a speech in London on Tuesday to attack Labour and the Tories over Brexit.

Humza Yousaf will address an event at the London School of Economics, where he is expected to claim spending on Scotland’s public services would be £1.6 billion higher if the UK was still in the EU.

Scottish independence, he will say, would result in a return to the European Union for Scotland and an increase in living standards.

“A combination of the economic powers that come with independence together with EU membership will be a powerful driver of better living standards and a fairer, stronger Scottish economy,” the First Minister is expected to say.

FM: ‘Broad agreement’ Brexit has damaged the economy

“In Scotland, I believe there is broad public agreement that Brexit has damaged the economy and public services, and that it should be reversed.

“Yet at Westminster there is agreement between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer that the UK should stay out of both the EU and the huge European single market – whatever the cost.”

The First Minister is expected to quote research from the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) on the impact of leaving the EU.

“The National Institute for Economic and Social Research suggests that compared to EU membership, the UK economy was 2.5% smaller in 2023 and it expects that figure to rise to 5.7% in little more than 10 years’ time,” he will say in his speech.

“That means £69 billion could have been wiped from national income in 2023, equating to £28 billion of tax revenue – £2.3 billion in terms of Scotland’s population share.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Image: PA

“Around 60% of spending in Scotland is on devolved services. With the same level of borrowing and taxation, that means without Brexit devolved spending power for our vital public services, such as the NHS, could have been £1.6 billion higher than it is today.

“In other words, Scotland has suffered an estimated £1.6 billion cut that could have been invested in our NHS because of a Brexit that people in Scotland overwhelmingly rejected.

“Giving people a choice over their future with the opportunity to escape the cosy Westminster no change consensus has never been more urgent or essential.”

‘SNP looking for any excuse’ to cover up failings’

NIESR deputy director Stephen Millard told the PA news agency the First Minister’s estimate was “a little high” and the figure was likely closer to “around £1.2 billion”.

Scottish Conservative shadow finance and economy secretary Liz Smith said: “As usual, Humza Yousaf is looking for any excuse to cover up the failings of the SNP Government.

Humza Yousaf will attack for Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak over Brexit. Image: PA

“The reality is that if economic growth in Scotland had matched that of the rest of the UK, the SNP would have had billions more to spend on public services – and we would have been spared Shona Robison’s disastrous tax-and-axe budget.”

Scottish Labour economy spokesman Daniel Johnson said: “Years of economic incompetence by the SNP has robbed Scots of opportunity and starved the public purse of funds.

“While the Tories have created economic turmoil across the UK, the SNP has made a bad picture worse. If Scotland’s economy had grown at the same pace as the UK as a whole between 2012 and 2021, it would be £8.5 billion larger.

“Scotland deserves better than the low growth, low pay economy the SNP and the Tories have built.

“Labour will work to deliver the fastest growth in the G7, so we can create jobs, invest in public services and strengthen communities.”

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