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Macmillan Speech: A New Deal for Scotland


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Sir Dylan Macmillan, Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party, travelled to Perth, Scotland, to deliver a speech on Scottish Unionism and Devolution in the 21st Century

All my life I have been proud of our United Kingdom. I have been proud of every nation within our great Union. Whether it's England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland there is so much that we have done together which would not have been possible if we had been apart. The United Kingdom came together to end the international slave trade, to defeat Naziism on the mainland, and to create our NHS - the envy of the World. But time never stands still and as time has marched on our Union has come under ever increasing threat. Whether it's Labour's deal with the Welsh and Northern Irish Nationalists or the SNP's rise to power we have to remain vigilant in our defence of the Union, and in making our case for the Union, if the Union is to survive.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I intend to travel to all corners of the United Kingdom and deliver the Conservative vision for the future of the Union. I have come here to Perth to unveil the Conservative Vision for Scotland. I would like to begin my remarks by paying tribute to my good friend and colleague Ruth Davidson, the Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, she has been the single greatest opponent of Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP, the Batman to the SNP's Jokers. She has rebuilt the Scottish Conservative Party through her hard work and endeavours and the whole country owes her a great debt for her work in holding the SNP to account. When you contrast her with McCrimmon, who wants to ennoble Alex Salmond while he is under investigation for potential sexual assaults, with Clarke who served as McCrimmon's Foreign Secretary, or with Sturgeon who is simply managing the decline of Scottish education and health I can think of nobody better to be Scotland's voice.

My friends Scotland is such a vibrant, compassionate, and incredible nation. The Conservative Party does not seek to change any of that, we seek to enhance it. That is why I am happy to announce that the Conservative Party will be supporting Northern Powerhouse Rail with an amendment. This amendment will stipulate that NPR and HS2 be connected to Scotland via Edinburgh and Glasgow. From Glasgow it will then travel to right here in Perth where it will branch to Aberdeen and Inverness. This High-Speed Rail amendment will bring millions, if not billions, to the Scottish Economy turbo charging the ports in the Highlands and providing them with a low cost, high speed, link to the rest of the United Kingdom ensuring the continued flourishing of these vital cities and their local communities. It will also help reinvigorate Central and Southern Scotland providing major connectivity opportunities to the people of Perth, Glasgow, and Edinburgh bringing thousands of jobs north of Hadrian's Wall and creating investment opportunities for the entire United Kingdom, centred around Scotland. This is just one example of the fantastic opportunities which the United Kingdom brings to all nations within it, and it is something I am deeply proud of.

On top of this, after deep discussions with Ruth and with Welsh Conservatives we have identified additional devolutionary measures which can be delivered if Scotland and Wales elect a Conservative First Minister. We will build on the fantastic devolutionary innovations which have come from Birmingham, London, and the Tees Valley to deliver bespoke devolutionary trials for Scottish cities in a similar vein. With the consent of the local population, we would trial this city devolution in Greater Glasgow, Edinburgh and Lothian, and Aberdeen giving them greater powers in line with Birmingham, and a directly elected Mayor like the Mayor of London. This scheme would run with the intention to expand to other cities and combined authorities delivering opportunity and accountability to local communities.

But the centrepiece of Modern Unionism for the Conservative Party is our innovation in direct funding. My heart breaks when I read about the failures of the SNP in Holyrood. It breaks when I hear about Scottish students with less opportunity now than they had a decade ago, and less opportunity than their English counterparts. It breaks when I hear about the oncoming opioid epidemic with 1 in 5 Scots being prescribed powerful painkillers usually reserved for palliative care or cancer treatment. I believe that as MPs we have a responsibility to our constituents and as a United Kingdom we have a responsibility to our constituent nations.

Let me be clear, direct funding does not mean taking from Holyrood and using Scottish Government funds to pursue British Government priorities, what it means is that we will provide direct funding from Westminster to protect the Scottish, Welsh, or Northern Irish people. If a Westminster MP in England petitions the Chancellor for a new school in their constituency, they can be heard, if a Scottish MP does the same they have to be directed to Holyrood creating a second class of MP. But at a time when Scottish educational outcomes are not keeping pace with the rest of the United Kingdom doesn't the United Kingdom have a duty to invest in Scotland's future? Why should a Scottish person have fewer rights to call upon the support of the British Government than an English person? They're both British citizens. When we are elected the Conservative Party will put forward a new Scotland Act in conjunction with legislation for the other three nations in the United Kingdom. This Act will make clear that the British Government can invest in Scotland, in reserved matters, but place the clear limitation that such spending is done with its own money and without impacting the Barnett Formula. It will also lay the groundwork for the devolution of Brexit powers in conjunction with the SNP's motion in the House of Commons and it will repeal English Votes for English Laws.

Ladies and Gentlemen this is just a taste of what the Conservative Party will seek to do if we are in power in Westminster or Holyrood. We will seek to devolve from Westminster and from Edinburgh to ensure that power resides with the people and with their communities, we will invest in infrastructure so that Scotland feels the full power of our investment agenda, and we will take the steps necessary to ensure that British Citizens in Scotland are treated with the same care and attention as those in England. The Conservative Party is a party which believes in the United Kingdom, in all of our United Kingdom. We will deliver for Scotland in a way that twenty years of Labour and SNP dominance has failed to do. While Labour Prime Ministers try to appoint alleged sex pests to the Lords and the SNP plies its trade in grievances we will govern with our New Deal for Scotland just as we will for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Edited by Macmillan

Arnold J. Appleby

MP for North Bedfordshire (1979-Present)
Shadow Foreign Secretary

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