After the Autumn Statement, Philip Hammond visits Scotland to gain support for a “common UK position” as economic cost of Brexit vote looms
CHANCELLOR of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is visiting Scotland today [Thursday 1 December] to meet First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish business to discuss the difficulties posed by Brexit.
He will also emphasise the need for the nations of the UK to remain on a united footing given the recent trips by Nicola Sturgeon to Dublin and her overtures to other European leaders.
The visit also comes after a recent poll which appeared to show support for independence failing to grow, following the June vote to leave the European Union (EU).
Hammond, who will host talks with business leaders in Edinburgh said:“Scotland’s contribution to the UK is invaluable and we have delivered on the Scottish Government’s call for increased capital funding and investment through our Autumn Statement.
“The rest of the UK is also Scotland’s most important market, providing four times the trade volume than that of the EU 27 – so it is imperative that we work together to achieve the best for everyone in the United Kingdom.”
However, the Chancellor may find it difficult to persuade Scottish business of the status quo, given that many from the whisky, fisheries, insurance and technology sectors have already stated that membership of the single market is a bare minimum for growth and stability.
A majority of Scots voted to stay in the European Union in June’s referendum, resulting in speculation that the country will once again seek to break away from the UK, this time partly in order to retain access to the single market.
During the 2016 Scottish election campaign, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that another independence referendum would only come about as a result of “material change”, particualrly Brexit, and rising support for independence in the polls.
A YouGov survey released on Wednesday [30 October] showed the margin of voters in favour of retaining the union rising to 12 per cent points compared with an eight per cent advantage in August. In contrast, the SNP has pointed to the thousands of responses they have garnered through the national survey as proof of a changing political mood.
Picture courtesy of FCO
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