Blog: Ian Blackford: Brexit and furlough cut-off could lead UK to ‘point of no return’ – The National

Downing Street declared on Friday that trade deal talks with the EU are “over”, while the job retention scheme is set to be wound down from next month. The replacement Jobs Support Scheme offers wage subsidies to businesses which face lower demand over the winter months due to coronavirus, but has been dubbed insufficient by Scottish ministers and companies.

Blackford warned that the combination could plundge millions of people into poverty and reiterated that Scotland’s best escape route is independence.

The SNP Westminster leader said: “The Tory Government’s dangerous concoction of pulling crucial financial support and pursuing its reckless and extreme Brexit plans in the middle of a pandemic is leading the UK to the point of no return – and it will be hard-working employees, businesses and households that will be forced to pay the price of the fallout.

“We are now less than two weeks away from the end of the furlough scheme and two weeks closer to the Brexit cliff-edge. Thousands of businesses are barely surviving the impact of the pandemic, and it’s clear that the added impact of an extreme Tory Brexit could force many to pull down their shutters for good.

“The time to act is running out. The Tory government should be strengthening support, not scrapping it as the threats grow.”

READ MORE: Brexit: Scots firms warn of impending ‘disaster’ if trade with EU is blocked

Scottish Government analysis has shown that people in Scotland will be £1600 worse off as a result of the Brexit deal championed by Boris Johnson, with the impact forecast to be even worse in the event of a No-Deal withdrawal.

Holyrood research has also found 61,000 jobs could be protected if the Chancellor extends furlough.

Blackford added: “I urge Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak to look at the road ahead and recognise the damage they are set to inflict unless they heed the warnings and take action now.

“Unless the Tories‘ economic choices change now, millions on the dole and in poverty will be the direct consequence of the political and moral choices the UK government is now making.

“The Scottish Parliament has been deliberately held back in its ability to respond to the pandemic by a Tory government that has blocked the devolution of financial powers and withheld the investment required to save jobs.

Westminster is simply not acting in Scotland’s interests, and it’s beyond any doubt that the only way to strengthen and protect our interests is by becoming an independent country.”

Sunak has insisted he will “do whatever is necessary to protect jobs and livelihoods as the situation evolves”.

The Chancellor added: “The expansion of the Job Support Scheme will provide a safety net for businesses across the UK who are required to temporarily close their doors, giving them the right support at the right time.”

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