Exclusive by Theresa May: 'Conservatives have made gains in Scotland by standing up for our principles'
Writing exclusively for Holyrood, the Prime Minister celebrates recent successes in Scotland and looks ahead to the Scottish Conservative party conference
Theresa May - Image credit: Press Association
The party faithful gather in Aberdeen for the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party conference in victorious mood.
For any leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party, the Scottish conference is an important event in the political calendar.
It is a chance to spend time with some of my party’s most passionate and committed activists and to exchange ideas about how we can make the greatest union of nations in the world even stronger in the future.
But of late, Scottish conference has also been a time to celebrate successes. At last year’s gathering at the SECC in Glasgow, I was pleased to be able to join a record number of Conservative MSPs.
This year, when members gather in the Granite City for our 2018 Scottish conference, alongside those 31 members of the Scottish Parliament will be our 13 Scottish Conservative members of the UK Parliament – the largest number for over two decades – and a record number of Scottish Conservative councillors too.
At every level of government in Scotland, Conservatives have made gains by standing up for our principles, listening to the concerns of local people and offering a resolute defence of Scotland’s place within our United Kingdom.
In the House of Commons, the transformation has been stark. We now have a more representative range of voices on Scottish matters, with the twelve new Scottish Conservative MPs at the forefront.
They represent a diverse group of communities, from urban and suburban to rural Scotland; from Stranraer to Peterhead; and from Eyemouth to Elgin.
They have made an immediate impact, helping to deliver a freeze in whisky duty, additional help for the oil industry, and clearing up the SNP’s mess on police and fire VAT.
As leader of the Conservative Party, I am proud to have them in my team at Westminster and as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, I am proud to lead a government which has made strengthening the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland a priority.
That includes action to boost the economy and support communities right across Scotland. That support is as clear in Aberdeen as anywhere.
Since the international oil price fell so considerably four years ago, the UK Government has backed the sector all the way, with over £2bn of support for the industry.
We have created a more competitive tax regime for oil and gas companies by abolishing Petroleum Revenue Tax and cutting the supplementary charge.
In the Budget last November, the Chancellor announced new tax reliefs for the decommissioning of late-life assets in the North Sea, which will help drive new investment.
We established the Oil and Gas Authority as a strong and independent regulator for the sector and it is doing great work to support the industry to diversify and realise the huge potential which remains in the North Sea and the many opportunities that lie beyond it.
As I have seen first-hand, the new Oil and Gas Technology Centre is also helping to cement Aberdeen’s place as a global energy hub.
This great new facility was funded from UK Government investment, through the landmark Aberdeen City Deal.
UK Government investment is also helping to deliver the new V&A in Dundee. Housed in a stunning building on the banks of the Tay, it is a great example of an iconic British institution broadening its footprint across the UK.
Dundee and Perth also stand to benefit from the Tay Cities Deal, which the UK Government is currently negotiating with the Scottish Government and the local councils.
We expect to conclude these negotiations, and separate discussions with Stirling and Clackmannanshire, shortly.
We have signed the high-level terms of a deal for Edinburgh and the South East of Scotland and discussions have now begun on a Borderlands deal, which will unite communities in the south of Scotland and the north of England.
These deals go to show what can be achieved when the UK and Scottish governments work together as partners.
That collaborative approach is the one which the UK Government has taken with our modern industrial strategy too.
We have worked with the Scottish Government throughout the process of setting that strategy and I want to ensure that sectors where Scotland excels, like shipbuilding, life sciences and creative industries, benefit from it.
Great Scottish businesses have a huge amount to offer the world, and I was delighted that representatives of the Scotch Whisky Association and Standard Life Aberdeen accompanied me on my recent trade mission to China.
Because outside of the EU, I am determined that Scotland and the whole UK will make the most of the new opportunities which are within our grasp – from growing our fishing industry outside the Common Fisheries Policy to finding new markets for our great exports.
That is the positive unionist message I will be taking to Aberdeen.
A strong Scotland, in a thriving United Kingdom, seizing the opportunities of the future.
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