'Blink and you might miss it': Chancellor accused of 'insulting' Scots in two-minute speech

18 March 2022, 13:28

Rishi Sunak's virtual address to Scottish Tory conference
Rishi Sunak's virtual address to Scottish Tory conference. Picture: Alamy

By Gina Davidson

Rishi Sunak has been accused of "insulting" Scots after delivering a speech to Scottish Tory conference which lasted just over two minutes.

The SNP said the Chancellor’s short speech “perfectly demonstrates Westminster Tory disdain for the people of Scotland”.

While Labour's shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray said the speech was a "blink and you might miss it" moment.

Tory Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, did in fact miss it, turning up after the "keynote" speech was over.

During his address - which was 322 words long and lasted just two minutes and ten seconds - Mr Sunak said the Treasury had protected "over one million Scottish jobs, provided loans and grants to almost 100,000 Scottish businesses and delivered £14.5 billion in additional funding for Scotland’s public services" throughout the Covid pandemic.

He added: "When our country needed it most, the might of the UK Treasury was placed at the disposal of every citizen, wherever they lived."

He went on to promote the UK government's levelling up agenda.

"At the Budget, I announced £173 million for 13 Scottish projects from Whithorn to Inverness as part of our Levelling Up and Community Ownership funds, £150 million for the British Business Bank to help small and medium sized Scottish businesses to grow and access to the £1.4 billion Global Britain Investment Fund to secure international investment into Scotland.

"And just last month we announced up to £52million for the delivery of two Scottish freeports. The UK Government has a plan to deliver opportunity and growth in every part of our country.

"And it is a plan that we want Scotland to share in, to drive, to lead. After all we have been through, let’s build that brighter, more prosperous future for the whole of the United Kingdom together."

His speech was immediately criticised by the SNP and Labour.

Ian Murray said: “Right now we need real leadership and vision from the Chancellor – but blink and you might miss this speech.

“A few minutes of buzzwords and slogans won’t rebuild our struggling economy and certainly won’t help struggling families."

SNP MSP Rona Mackay said: "In the middle of a crushing cost of living crisis the man who holds the purse strings thinks it's appropriate to devote just two minutes of his time to his own Scottish party conference.

"In a speech stuffed with shameless self-praise, Sunak provided not a single word of comfort or hope to thousands of hard-pressed Scottish families facing increasing financial uncertainty.

"This speech was nothing short of insulting and perfectly demonstrates Westminster Tory disdain for the people of Scotland."