SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has warned that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer will suffer over their “cowardly” stance on the UK’s economic relationship with the EU.
Flynn said the “chickens will come home to roost” as he accused the Sunak and Starmer of being “too afraid” to face the “real damage” of Brexit.
The MP for Aberdeen South said it was “wishful thinking on the part of unionists” to suggest any weakening of the independence cause from Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announced departure.
He added: “if they think the SNP is waiting to go quietly into the night, they’ve got another think coming”.
He said that the next generation in the party “want to drive things forward now”.
Flynn said that the “Prime Minister and the contender for prime minister don’t want to talk about [the UK’s relationship with the EU], despite of course the obvious benefits it would bring in the immediate term and I think on this issue in particular Keir Starmer has been found wanting and quite badly.”
He added: “What they’re ignoring is the real damage that it’s causing to the economy and that’s particularly the case in Scotland.”
Flynn said the UK parties were being “cowardly” over staff shortages in the public and private sectors.
He said: “They’re being cowardly, they’re too afraid to take on the reality of the situation and be honest with the public.
“I don’t think that does them any favours and I think the chickens will come home to roost before the general election in that regard.”
Ahead of Jeremy Hunt’s spring Budget next week, Flynn said the Chancellor “doesn’t just need to freeze energy bills, he needs to cut them”. He added that Scotland was “fuel poor” under “Westminster’s watch”.
He also said that Labour had copied the SNP’s stance on scrapping the non-dom tax status, expanding the windfall tax, increasing public sector pay and energy bill assistance.
Flynn said: “It’s almost like Labour have copied a lot of the successful policies of the Scottish Government.
“The big chasm exists between ourselves and Labour when it comes to the EU. The most obvious way to grow the economy is to rejoin the single market and customs union.”
He said that his party’s priority was about ensuring Scotland is “in a position to grow our economy, but also to protect households from the worst of the cost-of-living crisis”.
He said: “There needs to be immediate action on energy bills to protect households,” adding: “That’s why we’re saying that the Chancellor doesn’t just need to freeze energy bills, he needs to cut them because the damage it’s doing to people in Scotland is real and it’s impacting people on a daily basis.”
He said that “there’s a very simple answer to [economic growth]. Keir Starmer is afraid to say it, there’s no chance Rishi Sunak will say it, although he did, he kind of let it slip last week in relation to the NI Protocol and they need to be in discussions with the EU about rejoining the single market, that’s what businesses want to see.”
He added: “We need to see the Government take action in terms of protecting benefits and pensions in line with inflation, that’s hugely important as well.”
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