Question Time: Michael Forsyth hits out at SNP’s ‘fantasy politics’
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Lord Michael Forsyth questioned how Scotland would have fared in the Covid crisis if the SNP had won the independence debate. In a blistering attack on independence, the Conservative peer said that he can give “20 billion reasons why we are lucky to be a part of the United Kingdom” as he cited the £20bn sent from the UK Treasury to deal with Covid. He called out Scottish Health Secretary Jeanne Freeman, who also appeared on BBC Question Time, for spreading “fantasy politics and fantasy economics”.
Independence-supporting journalist and commentator Angela Haggerty told Lord Forsyth: “There is no reason why Scotland cannot thrive as an independent nation.”
This prompted the former Conservative cabinet minister to fire back: “I can give you 20 billion reasons why we are lucky to be a part of the United Kingdom.
“£20bn is how much has come north of the border to deal with Covid.”
Ms Freeman responded: “It’s not free money Michael, it’s money the Scottish taxpayer contributed to the Treasury.”
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However, Lord Forsyth took Ms Freeman to task: “You know perfectly well that your own figures shows Scotland gets a huge amount from the UK Treasury.
“This particular crisis, the furlough scheme, the vaccines. Where would we have been if we had voted as you wanted in 2014?”
When Ms Freeman rebuked this, Lord Forsyth hit back: “Can I finish my point? How would we have managed in this crisis? We wouldn’t have had the strength of the UK around us.
“If you want to have another referendum, you, at the very least, should spell out how we would survive with our currency.
“How would we pay people’s pensions? How would you pay your share of the debt, which is now enormous?
“There will be half a trillion pounds of debt increased this year and it’s just fantasy politics and fantasy economics to think you could risk the future of Scotland by shearing yourself away from the strength of the UK around you.”
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Lord Forsyth served in the cabinet of John Major as Secretary of State for Scotland between 1995 and 1997.
Ms Freeman responded to the attack: “What we are saying is that people in Scotland have the right to choose. They have the right to choose.
“We’ll have the arguments about whether or not we are independent if people choose that they want a referendum.
“It’s really straight-forward and it’s a basic democratic question and no-one, actually no-one, should deny the democratic right of people in Scotland to choose if they want to have a referendum to be an independent country or not.”
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There have now been 21 consecutive polls showing majority support for Scottish independence.
Earlier this week, it emerged that support for independence had fallen to below 50 percent for the first time this year.
According to a new Savanta ComRes poll for The Scotsman, the survey found 47 percent of Scots would vote to leave the union, versus 42 percent opposed and ten percent undecided.
Once the undecideds are excluded this would give the nationalists 53 percent versus 47 percent for the unionists.
Some 45 percent of respondents claimed the SNP are divided, an increase on eight points over the December figure.
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