After posting an anti-Brexit video on social media, Scottish government officials have been accused of using taxpayer money to spread “SNP propaganda”
Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, said he had written about the matter to both UK Cabinet Secretary Simon Case and Scottish Government Secretary of State Leslie Evans.
He called for an apology and indicated that by promoting the film, which suggests that Scotland should be independent and rejoin the EU, Scottish officials could have violated the Civil Service Code on political neutrality.
He highlighted a section of the code which states that civil servants must not behave in a way decided by political considerations of the party or use official resources for political purposes of the party.
Civil servants are also, however, expected to assist ministers in executing their agenda for policy.
When Boris Johnson signed the Christmas Eve deal, it was praised as “great news for British families and businesses.” by his official account of the British Prime Minister on Twitter.
He added: “We can now take full advantage of the fantastic opportunities available to us as an independent trading nation and strike trade deals with other partners around the world.”
Later, via his officials, Scottish Minister Alister Jack released an official statement calling the agreement “good news for Scotland” which points to a “exciting future.”
Scotland has not voted to leave the EU, but we will work hard to minimize #Brexit’s worst impacts.
For Scotland, here’s what it means
Read more at pic.twitter.com/MsbnPAQwYK at https://t.co/e6Wq5SbqiO
-Government of Scotland (@scotgov) December 30, 2020
The row coincided with the Scottish government’s release of a new review of what post-Brexit trade between the EU and the UK, which comes into force today at 11 p.m., means for Scotland.
SNP Constitution Secretary Mike Russell said Scotland’s forced withdrawal from the EU single market and customs union would “hit jobs and living standards hard.”
The challenges in compensating for the harm have also demonstrated why the Scottish government insists that “the best future for Scotland is as an independent country within the EU,” he said.
The Tories directed their outrage at a video circulated by the official Twitter account of the Scottish government which said the trade agreement was “a bad deal for Scotland.”
It also claimed that the agreement would present a “greater risk to national security” and concluded by saying, “We believe Scotland has the right to choose a better future as an independent country.”
The deal has been concluded. Pic.twitter.com/zzhvxOSeWzz
– Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) 24/12/2020
The video on Twitter bearing the Scottish government’s official logo is followed by the tweet, ‘Scotland didn’t vote to leave the EU, but we’re going to work hard to minimize the worst effects of #Brexit. For Scotland, here’s what it says.
There is also a link to the Scottish government’s Dec. 25 press release titled “Bad Brexit deal for Scotland,” which contains more Mr. Russell quotes.
Mr. Ross said, “This video is a work of shameless propaganda and it is unbelievable that it is considered in any way appropriate by a politically neutral public service.”
Funding a work of one-sided nationalist distortion is not reasonable to taxpayers.
“In Scotland, the government should serve everybody.
I wrote to Simon Case, Secretary of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom and Head of the Civil Service, today, and also to Leslie Evans, Secretary of State for the Scottish Government.
“The fact is that Scottish business leaders have supported the UK-EU trade agreement, claiming it is beneficial for employment and the economy.
We’re all trying to play this video for fools, particularly for the million-plus Scots who voted to leave the EU.
“We know that Nicola Sturgeon and her party are unable to recognize the fact…. But in peddling SNP propaganda, untruths and grievances, the civil service ought to have no part.
“We need an apology for this video, its removal from Scottish Government sites and an explanation of how this was authorized and the cost to the taxpayer.”
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