Nicola Sturgeon’s independence bid destroyed by Andrew Neil with public spending fact

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The veteran broadcaster, a vocal critic of efforts from Scotland’s First Minister to force a second referendum on independence, pointed out to his 1.1 million Twitter followers how the country’s deficit has increased by £2billion from a year earlier. The figures, for the financial year to April 5, 2020, were contained in the annual Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (Gers). They don’t reflect the full impact from the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Neil wrote: “Latest official accounts from Scottish Government for 2019/20: a total of £66bn in taxes raised in Scotland while total public spending was £81bn. So £15bn budget deficit, up from £13bn previous year.”

This sparked outrage on Twitter, with several people attempting to rally behind Ms Sturgeon by stating the UK’s own deficit has surged by an even bigger margin.

Sharing a screenshot of figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), one person replied: “I believe that the UK budget deficit went from £41billion to £60billion in the same period.

“So Scotland seems to have managed its finances considerably better than Westminster.”

But a Twitter user hit back, claiming if Scotland was to be successful in its bid for independence, the country’s GDP would plummet by up to a third, putting it on a par with the likes of Morocco.

They wrote: “UK, including Scotland, has the fifth biggest economy in the world. Scotland is about 50th, on a par with Algeria.

“Post independence, GDP would drop by about a third, putting Scotland on a par with Morocco.”

The Scottish Conservatives said the latest figures were a “massive setback for SNP plans for separation” and showed that being part of the UK was “more valuable than ever” to Scotland.

Murdo Fraser, the party’s finance spokesman, said Scotland’s public spending deficit was now higher than its health budget of £13.8bn.

He said: “The SNP and Nicola Sturgeon herself used to hail Gers figures as all the evidence Scotland needed to separate from the UK.

“Now, nationalists will spend the day denying facts from their own Government.”

During the independence referendum in 2014, the Scottish people voted to remain in the UK by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent.

But this has not deterred Ms Sturgeon, who has used Brexit to claim the UK’s departure from the European Union gives her SNP Government a mandate to push ahead with a second referendum on Scottish independence.

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During the Brexit referendum in June 2016, the UK voted by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the European Union, with the departure from the bloc set to be completed at the end of the transition period on December 31.

But Scotland itself voted to remain in the EU by a margin of 62 percent of 38 percent, and independence from the UK could see the country attempt to rejoin the Brussels bloc.

Last week, former Labour MP George Galloway sparked fury among the SNP when he called for the 750,000 Scots living outside of Scotland and elsewhere in the UK to have their say in a second referendum.

He told his 357,000 Twitter followers on Tuesday: “I’ll tell you this: IF there’s to be a second IndyRef, then 795,000 Scots living elsewhere in the UK MUST have a vote.

“If UK expats can vote in General Elections from Spain then an existential question like Separatism MUST be answered by all Scots.”

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove described Mr Galloway’s demand for change as an “interesting question”.

SNP MP Angus Roberston described Mr Galloway’s idea as “desperate”, and wrote on Twitter: “With polls now showing a consistent majority in favour of Scottish independence its opponents in Westminster consider changing the electorate an ‘interesting question’.

“Looks desperate, and undemocratic. #indyref2 #Scotland.”

Ms Sturgeon had been quick to celebrate a poll, which found Scottish independence support has reached its highest levels ever recorded.

The First Minister said “the momentum is very clearly with us” after Panelbase found the results of the 2014 independence referendum – when 55 percent of Scots voted to stay in the UK – were reversed.

She posted: “Two polls on Scottish independence out today. This one very encouraging.”

“And this one – slightly more up to date – is even more encouraging.

“Lots of work to do, fellow Yes supporters, to persuade even more people – but the momentum is very clearly with us.”

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