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Scotland’s First Minister came under fire from a Conservative MSP, who warned if the country had been independent of the UK during the pandemic it would have resulted in a “disaster” for Scots. Michelle Ballantyne said journalists above the border had failed to properly hold Ms Sturgeon to account.
Her scathing review of Ms Sturgeon’s performance throughout the biggest public health crisis in a generation comes as Boris Johnson this week paid a visit to Orkney.
Ms Ballantyne said the First Minister has been made out to be some kind of “saint” due to how she responded to the epidemic.
The MSP told The Daily Mail: “If you look at the outbreak at Nike that was covered up, the decision to put people in care homes from hospital without COVID testing – she’s used her briefings to shut criticism down and spin it like they have handled it better than in Westminster and that ‘Saint Nicola’ has delivered – but that’s not the case at all if you look at the figures.”
She added: “Nicola Sturgeon hides behind systems and processes that protect the Scottish Government from being robustly questioned and the press need to be better at challenging the obvious failures in policy outcomes.”
Ms Ballantyne said the lack of scrutiny has allowed Ms Sturgeon to gain support for her ambitious plan to take Scotland out of the UK.
Two recent polls have found that more than half (54 percent) of people would vote for independence if there was a second referendum.
During his trip to Scotland on Thursday, the Prime Minister hailed the “fantastically strong” union.
On the eve of the first anniversary of his entry into No10, Mr Johnson rejected calls for Indyref2.
The Prime Minister said the strength of the UK has been critical in the response to coronavirus.
He also spoke of his desire to “build back better” after the pandemic.
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Mr Johnson said: “The union is a fantastically strong institution, it’s helped our country through thick and thin, it’s very, very valuable in terms of the support we’ve been able to give to everybody throughout all corners of the UK.”
Ms Sturgeon argued his visit highlighted a key argument for independence.
She tweeted: “I welcome the PM to Scotland today. One of the key arguments for independence is the ability of Scotland to take our own decisions, rather than having our future decided by politicians we didn’t vote for, taking us down a path we haven’t chosen. His presence highlights that.”
While she welcomed financial support from Westminster, she said it is “not some kind of favour” to Scots.
She added: “Let’s be clear, this is borrowed money and the reason it is coming to the Scottish Government from the UK Government is the UK Government holds the borrowing powers that Scotland doesn’t hold.
“Scottish taxpayers will pay the cost of that borrowing in the same way as taxpayers across the UK will so it is not some kind of favour that is being done for Scotland.
“And if the Scottish Government held the borrowing powers we would be able to provide that support directly, and perhaps we would be able to have greater flexibility in how we design these schemes.”
And in an effort to love-bomb Scots further, the Government on Friday sent Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay to Edinburgh to announce an extra £1.9 billion for Scotland.
The funding is part of a £3.7 billion package for the devolved nations to help them tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
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