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Scottish Tory leader calls on UK Government to make furlough guarantee

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Scottish Tory leader calls on UK Government to make furlough guarantee



The UK Government must “immediately” guarantee the furlough scheme will be extended in Scotland if the country is forced into a second lockdown, Conservative leader Douglas Ross insists.

He will make the call for the UK Government to “treat Scotland the same way as England” after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a second national coronavirus lockdown south of the border.

That prompted Chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend the furlough scheme, which had been due to end on Saturday, for the month of November.

And while Ross hopes a second lockdown will be avoided north of the border, he believes if this was required the UK Government should commit to paying for furlough.

He will make the call in a speech to the Policy Exchange on Monday, in which he will also admit that devolution has been “found wanting” during the coronavirus crisis.

Ross will say: “The Covid-19 crisis has put the structures for interaction between the UK Government, devolved administrations and indeed the English mayoralties to the ultimate test.

“And I think that even the most committed defender of the current system would admit that they have been found wanting.”

While he will claim that the “pandemic has not broken devolution”, he will say it has “exposed its weakest points”.

Ross will note that the Scottish Government and the other devolved administrations “have been forced to look for detail on announcements from publicly available press releases”.

As well as being a “lifeline” for hundreds of thousands of Scottish jobs, he will say the furlough scheme has also been a “real and tangible reminder of the economic security of the Union” between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

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And he will demand: “Now that the scheme has been extended to cover the impact of a second lockdown in England, how could a Unionist government not restart the scheme if a second lockdown is required in Scotland?

“We all hope that by following the guidance and doing the right thing, a second Scottish lockdown will not be necessary.

“But if it is, the UK Government must treat Scotland the same way as England. That guarantee has to be made immediately.”

A Treasury spokesman said: “Mr Ross is right that this crisis has underlined the importance of the Union.

“Our extension of the furlough scheme until December is just one part of our £200bn support package, which has protected jobs and helped millions of people across the UK continue to provide for their families.

“As we have throughout this crisis, we will continue to listen and respond to people’s concerns as the situation demands.”



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