Alister Jack urges Scotland’s next FM to choose collaboration, not confrontation

Scottish secretary Alister Jack has urged the country’s next prime minister not to quarrel with the UK government, calling on whoever replaces Nicola Sturgeon to “move from confrontation to collaboration”.

The Conservative politician said the election of a new SNP leader, who will later become Scotland’s sixth first minister, was an opportunity to “reset” the relationship with politicians in Westminster.

He challenged whoever succeeds Mrs Sturgeon to “put the people of Scotland first” by seeking to work more collaboratively with the UK government.

Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and former Community Safety Minister Ash Regan are in the running to succeed Ms Sturgeon, with the winner to be announced on Monday.

Humza Yousaf (left), Kate Forbes (centre) and Ash Regan (right) are running to be the next leader of the SNP and Scottish first minister. (Andy Buchanan/PA)

Jack said he would have “fundamental political differences” with whomever, but stressed that should not prevent the two governments from working together.

With the SNP’s first leadership election in almost 20 years drawing to a close, the Tory MP said the Scottish government “stands at a crossroads, with the selection of a new first minister due in the coming days.”

He added: “Whoever wins the leadership election tomorrow faces a pivotal choice that will define his time as prime minister.

“It is fair to say that they and I will have fundamental political differences.

“But this should not, must not be an obstacle to us working together in the interest of Scottish families and businesses.”

He continued: “After eight years of leadership by Nicola Sturgeon, whoever wins has the opportunity to seize the opportunity to do things differently, reset, and make giveback work better for the people we serve.”

The Scottish secretary said: “Too often in the past, Holyrood ministers have sought conflict with Westminster, simply to further their aim of separation.

“That has drained the energy, focus and determination that should have gone into improving education, tackling drug deaths and ensuring people have the reliable transport links they need.

“But despite that, there are solid foundations to build on.

“We can move from confrontation to collaboration.

“We know that we can achieve much more if we work together than if we go apart.

“These are not just warm words, we have the evidence to prove it.”

Here he cited the city’s bid programme, which has seen the Scottish and UK governments invest in locations across Scotland “to grow local economies, create jobs and invest in the future of our communities.”

He also said the two administrations had jointly announced the establishment of two free ports in Scotland, in the Firth of Forth and Cromarty Firth, saying this would benefit not only these areas, but would help “make the whole country more competitive”. .

Jack also said plans for new innovation zones announced in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s recent budget could see ministers in Edinburgh and London “build on that partnership and develop proposals for Scotland.”

The Scottish secretary continued: “There are many other areas where we can and must work together in meaningful ways, including transport, energy and recycling, and the list goes on.

“As I said, the choice the new prime minister makes will define them.

“My advice to them is this: put the people of Scotland first.”


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