SNP accuse Tories of ‘outrageous power grab’ amid EU replacement fund row

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THE CONSERVATIVES have been accused of “an outrageous grab” of power as the SNP has challenged MSPs to reject EU funding being diverted from Holyrood.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes was told by the UK Treasury that the replacement for EU structural funds, previously handed to Holyrood to be spent, will instead be controlled by the UK Government.

The SNP has warned the strategy from the UK Government is “undermining devolution”.

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But a UK Government source has stressed that the SNP should focus on “Scotland’s priorities” rather than “peddling their power grab myth”.

Over the last seven years, the Scottish Government received £780 million in EU funding that was spent on infrastructure, economic development and workplace training.

The funding will not be handed over as the UK has now left the European Union and has been replaced by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, controlled by Whitehall.

The SNP has warned more than £100 million will be spent by the Conservative UK Government on projects normally devolved to the Scottish Government.

The party has pointed to Holyrood’s Finance Committee stressing in October 2019 that any replacement of the funding should be devolved to Holyrood.

But Tory MSP Murdo Fraser, the deputy convener of the Finance Committee, has welcomed the UK Government funding, labelling it “excellent news”.

Scottish Conservative finance spokesperson Murdo Fraser

He added: “Scotland has two Governments, and it’s good to see the UK Government taking a more active role to support communities in Scotland failed by the SNP.”

The Finance Committee will meet today and SNP MSP Tom Arthur has called on MSPs to send a message to Westminster that the new funding is “an insult to the Scottish Parliament”.

He said: “This is another outrageous grab by the Tories on the powers of our Scottish Parliament.

“These funds are crucial to meet the priorities of Scotland’s elected Government and communities. Now they will be decided on the whim of a Tory Government at Westminster that Scotland didn’t vote for. That is, quite frankly, anti-democratic.

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“Tory MSPs accepted that the Scottish Government should retain the power to operate the scheme and ensure it matches Scotland’s needs. Now they are happy for Scotland to have absolutely no say in how that money is spent.

“That is an insult to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Tories should be ashamed.

“The Scottish Tories need to grow a backbone, stop undermining devolution and tell Boris Johnson that these funds must be spent by Scotland in Scotland.”

A UK Government source said: “The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is good news for Scotland and the whole UK.

“The UK Government will be spending money in Scotland on Scottish priorities, not priorities set by the EU.

“The SNP should also focus on Scotland’s priorities but unfortunately they seem too busy peddling their power grab myths.”

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