Debate Night: SNP squirms as young Scot slams indyref2 plans
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Answering questions in the House of Commons, the new Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said he held constructive meetings with the devolved leaders on a weekly basis. Mr Gove claimed that while the SNP publicly lashed out at the UK Government, he claimed in private the UK and Scottish Governments worked well together.
He made his remarks in response to a question by SNP MP Patricia Gibson, who accused ministers of sidetracking the devolved administrations.
She said Scotland was “not considered or consulted in trade deals” and claimed the UK Government had imposed the Internal Market Act which “undermines two decades of the devolution settlement”.
The Internal Market Bill meant all powers held by the EU were automatically returned to Westminster following Brexit.
SNP supporters have claimed the Scottish Government should have inherited the powers and accused the UK Government of a “power grab”.
The North Ayrshire and Arran MP implied the actions of ministers failed to show how “this Union is indeed a partnership of equals”.
Mr Gove responded by saying Ms Sturgeon privately accepted Scotland had good working relations with Westminster.
He said: “I meet weekly with First Ministers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
“Those meetings are, if she were privileged enough to be able to observe them, they are like a nest of singing birds.
“They are festivals of cordiality.
“I recognise that the SNP needs to keep its activist base happy with the recitation of these grievances.
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“But, the reality is those that serve in the Scottish Government know that we in the UK Government are their friends and partners.
“Scotland has no better friend than the other citizens of the United Kingdom.”
His comments were met with jeers and laughter from the SNP benches.
Mr Gove also used the session in the Commons to hint Scottish councils would soon receive extra funding as part of a Brexit dividend.
“I hope that shortly we’ll be receiving news from the Chancellor of the Exchequer about the allocation of funds under the Internal Market Bill’s financial assistance power through the levelling-up fund,” the Surrey Heath MP said.
He said a number of SNP MPs have “backed bids to that fund, including SNP councils as well”.
Mr Gove added: “It’s great to have on the ground, locally-elected representatives, supporting the financial assistance power, the Internal Market Bill and the vital importance of making sure we all work together.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will deliver his Budget of tax and spend plans in the Commons on Wednesday.
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