Tory MSP brands chancellor ‘careless’ over ‘Scottish oil and gas industry’ comments

Tory MSP Stephen Kerr says Chancellor Jeremy Hunt was “careless” in describing the “Scottish” oil and gas industry as “losers” in his budget.

There was outrage among industry figures after the government chose to extend the windfall tax on oil and gas firms for an extra year to 2029.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross was left humiliated after the decision which he personally appealed to the chancellor not to take.

Asked by the BBC who the “losers” of his budget were, Mr Hunt named the “Scottish” oil and gas industry. 

The UK Government want to extend the windfall tax. Image: Shutterstock.

Mr Kerr told the broadcaster on Sunday: “I don’t happen to think those are very wisely chosen words from the chancellor frankly to describe the oil and gas sector as the ‘Scottish oil and gas sector’.

“Seems to me to be a bit careless on the part of the chancellor.

“That’s my personal view, but as far as the Conservatives go, it’s the party the oil and gas sector knows is on their side.”

‘Thoroughly bad idea’

Mr Kerr said he had “no idea” how many jobs could be lost as a consequence of the windfall tax extension announced on Wednesday.

“It’s a thoroughly bad idea”, he added.

“We’ll be doing our level best to persuade our government that it’s not a good idea.”

Stephen Kerr has been picked to fight for a seat in Tayside at the next Westminster election. Image: PA.

The UK Government argues that extending the windfall tax by an extra year allows the government to deliver a National Insurance cut for millions of workers across the UK.

But the SNP has criticised the Tories for their plans which they say amount to “taxing Scotland’s natural resources in order to pay for a tax cut in England.”

North Sea jobs warning

Analysts previously warned tens of thousands of jobs could be lost as a result of Labour’s plans to increase the levy from 75% to 78% and extend it by a year.

Professor Paul De Leeuw, director of the Robert Gordon University Energy Transition Institute, said he was “worried” about potential job losses.

He told the BBC Sunday Show: “We are simply not investing enough in the UK or in Scotland to get the activity and the jobs we need.

“So, am I worried, yes, but is there an opportunity to get it right? Absolutely.”

Mr Kerr, who is standing to become MP for the new seat of Angus and Perthshire Glens at the general election, denied the decision will harm them at the ballot box.

He said: “I don’t think it damages the Scottish Conservatives in the slightest.

“Because we are showing we are the party that will stand up for the best interests of Scotland, the north-east of Scotland, and the oil and gas sector.”

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