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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
28 April 2023
Rishi Sunak says the SNP can be ‘audited’ on their record in government

Rishi and Douglas Ross on stage at Scottish Conservative conference

Rishi Sunak says the SNP can be ‘audited’ on their record in government

Rishi Sunak has said that the SNP can be ‘audited’ on their record in government in a dig over the party's financial woes.

The prime minister was critical of the SNP - which is searching for new auditors after the previous firm quit - during his keynote speech at the Scottish Conservative conference in Glasgow, highlighting its approach to tackling the attainment gap, rising violent crime figures, and their handling of the construction of two delayed ferries.  

Sunak described this as a “record of failure” and commended Douglas Ross and the Scottish Conservatives for doing “wonders to call it out”.  

He focused on the departure of the former first minister, telling Conservative party members: “If the SNP can’t sort out the mess that Nicola Sturgeon left their party, how on earth can they sort out the mess that Nicola Sturgeon has left Scottish public services in?”

The prime minister argued that a fresh approach is needed at Holyrood “that is focused on the Scottish people’s real priorities, not constitutional distractions”.  

When asked about devolution, he said “we can’t devolve and forget”, adding that Scotland is the most “powerful devolved assembly”.  

Sunak said: “All this talk of needing any more powers is clearly not appropriate. The SNP and the Scottish Government don’t even use all the powers that they already have.”

The prime minister said that “Scotland is at the heart” of his plan to deliver for the UK, pointing to his government’s funding of a supercomputer north of the border.  

He added: “We alone are the party that supports Scotland’s North Sea oil and gas industry because we know we need to increase our energy security, not increase our reliance on Vladimir Putin.”

Focus turned to highlighting the work of the UK Government during the cost-of-living crisis and the pandemic, emphasising financial assistance given to Scottish households this week and the furlough scheme during the pandemic. Sunak argued that Scotland has seen “the power and the might of the UK Government” in helping vulnerable families.  

Demonstrating the importance of the UK Government to Scottish people was a line Sunak repeated throughout his speech, he told delegates that “I only promise what I deliver, and I deliver what I promise.”

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