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TORY POWER GRAB

Last night, I voted against the Tories’ power grab on the Scottish Parliament. Yet, the Internal Market Bill was passed despite Scottish MPs and the Scottish Parliament rejecting it.

All of the Scottish Tory MPs, including Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, voted to undermine Scotland’s will and control over devolved policy areas. They have been spineless and have failed to stand up for Scotland.

This is an attack of devolution and a danger to our NHS and other public services; Scottish food and environmental standards; and democracy.

By breaking the devolution settlement and international law, the Tories have shown they cannot be trusted. It is clearer than ever that the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is to take our place as an independent country.

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UK BUDGET ANNOUNCED

Despite the spin from the Tories in London, Scotland’s budget will be lower in real terms that it was when the Tories came to power. It does not reverse £13.9bn of cumulative cuts or provide our people and services with the full support they need.

I was pleased that SNP calls to act on the tampon tax was heeded, and also my own calls to end the 20% tax on digital publications. However, many of the UK Government’s abhorrent policies remain. The two-child Tax Credit cap is still affecting 8,500 Scottish families. The minimum wage is still set below the real Living Wage. And the £200bn immoral and financial blackhole, Trident, will remain on the Clyde while children live in poverty, people go homeless, and families go hungry.

There was once again no strategy for the steel sector; no protection of workers’ rights; and no commitment to match the Scottish Government’s efforts to achieve net zero carbon emissions.

Urgent action is needed to tackle the economic crisis coronavirus is causing: the UK Government should have matched the Scottish Government’s NHS spending. UK Statutory Sick Pay also lags behind the European average at £94 per week whereas Ireland is offering £266 – for all workers, including the self-employed.

The Scottish Government now needs clarity on what the UK Government’s coronavirus programme will means for spending here. Barnett consequentials must be passed on so we can effectively deal with the problem.

In summary, this year’s budget is a continuation of the budgets the Tories have been forcing on Scotland for ten years. Our economy is being undermined, our services are being hamstrung, and peoples’ incomes are being squeezed. With independence and all the powers at Scotland’s disposal, we could introduce a budget that meets the needs of people across Scotland to deliver for them and allow them to live a life of opportunity, prosperity and respect.

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UK BUDGET TODAY

Scotland – our people, communities and services – have suffered under a decade of Tory austerity. With today’s budget, it is expected that it will continue. The Scottish Government Budget 2020-21 is still 2.8% (£840 million) lower in real terms compared to 2010-11. The £1.2bn extra next financial year will not reverse the £13.9bn of cumulative cuts.

Despite these pressures, the Scottish Government has delivered record public investment. For the first time, the NHS in Scotland will have a budget of £15bn. £800 million will be invested to deliver 50,000 new homes this parliament. The £10 weekly Scottish Child Payment, which when fully rolled out from this year, will help 30,000 children out of poverty as part of £3.4 billion in social security.

This shows what Scotland can do with one hand tied behind our back. Imagine what we can do with all the powers over our economy and society. Scotland has demanded to choose its future. We can either continue with tax cuts for the richest and under investment, or we can be independent and invest in our people.

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Covid-19 Latest News

SNP CALL ON BORIS JOHNSON TO EXTEND STATUTORY SICK PAY POLICY

Following Boris Johnson’s announcement on statutory sick pay at Prime Minister’s questions, SNP MP Marion Fellows has urged the UK government to go further and extend the policy.

Today Boris Johnson announced that workers who are forced to take sick leave will get statutory sick pay from the first day of their absence, instead of after four days under the current rules, as part of emergency Coronavirus measures.

However, the SNP’s Disabilities spokesperson has said this does not go far enough and that the policy should be extended to be set at an hourly rate and living wage, available to everyone regardless of earnings, working hours or contract, and available for 52 weeks instead of 28.

Commenting, Marion Fellows, MP for Motherwell and Wishaw said:

“I am pleased that Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will now begin from the first day of a worker’s absence instead of after four but the UK government must extend the policy further to ensure that sick pay is set at an hourly rate and available for everyone for 52 weeks instead of 28.

“Current rules around SSP are not flexible enough to meet real life needs, and fall far short of meeting a dignified standard of living – even with this new change. We must have a sick pay system fit for the 21st century which does not force people to choose between working while ill and hardship.

“Disability groups have been especially vocal in calling for an overhaul of the sick pay system. Their concerns must be factored into the UK government’s response to their sick pay consultation.

“If the UK government will not make these crucial changes then it should devolve the powers to Holyrood so it can – to meet people’s needs in Scotland and ensure their standard of living is not disadvantaged by Coronavirus or any other illness that they have contracted through no fault of their own.”

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SCOTTISH BUDGET AGREEMENT REACHED

Agreement has been reached in the Scottish Parliament for the 2020/21 budget. As well as the original pledges, the SNP Scottish Government will deliver:

🚌 Free bus travel for under-18s.

🏢 An extra £95m for local authorities – including £6m for North Lanarkshire.

👮‍♀️ £13m for frontline Police and £5m capital.

🌅 £25m on energy efficiency and tackling fuel poverty.

🚲 An extra £5m on rail and £15m on active travel.

Given the increase in North Lanarkshire Council’s funding, I hope Councillors of all parties will meet soon to agree how local people and services can be protected from the relentless onslaught of Tory austerity.

These pledges are in addition to those made earlier this month:

🏥 Record funding of £15bn for Health and Social Care – including £117m in mental health.

🏠 £800m and an additional £300m to build more homes beyond the 50,000 target of this Parliament.

🧒 £3.4bn – part of which will be towards the new Scottish Child Payment which will lift 30,000 children out of poverty.

🚆 £270m in rail investment and an extra £16m on concessionary travel.

👮‍♀️ £37m extra for Policing.

🏢 A real terms increase of 4.3% for local authorities.

💵 For the third consecutive year, more than half of Scottish income tax payers will pay less tax than if they lived elsewhere in the UK.

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LOCAL MP BACKS BILL TO PROTECT NHS FROM TRADE DEALS

Marion Fellows, SNP MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, has backed a Bill to protect the NHS from being used as a bargaining chip in future trade deals with foreign nations.

The SNP will tomorrow (5 February) bring forward the NHS protection Bill – a key 2019 manifesto commitment – to enshrine in law that all four of the UK’s health services must be protected as publicly owned, publicly operated, and its services publicly commissioned, and ensure that any future trade deals would require the explicit consent of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Parliaments and Assemblies.

Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:

“The NHS in Scotland – and all parts of the UK – is precious to those who use it and we must do everything we can to protect it from anyone who is seeking to abuse it for profit. Our NHS must be off the table in any Trump trade deal.

“While health policy is devolved to Scotland, we cannot currently stop Westminster from signing away our NHS in a damaging trade deal, or entering agreements with other nations that would dramatically push up drug prices or risk our public services.

“That is why I am supporting this proposal for a new law that will protect our National Health Services from Boris Johnson and Donald Trump.

“I will not stand idly by while there is a risk that the Tories will trade away our vital health service for a trade deal with Donald Trump. Our NHS has been there to care for and protect us for the last 70 years – now it’s our turn to stand up and protect the NHS.”

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BREXIT DAY

As successive UK Governments continue to ride roughshod over Scotland’s will, we must decide our own future – not have Boris Johnson decide it for us.

The First Minister has today announced that the SNP will seek to secure a binding referendum for the Scottish people. We will seek to do this by bringing together the elected representatives of Scotland: MSPs, MPs, the MEPs elected last year and council leaders – to come together to endorse a modern Claim of Right for Scotland through a new Constitutional Convention.

To declare that it is for the Scottish Parliament to decide whether and when there should be an independence choice and build support for that principle amongst civic Scotland.

Independence has always been backed up with a solid plan. In 2014, we produced ‘Scotland’s Future’. We will now produce the ‘New Scotland’ papers which will provide the information and answers people want on the details on how Scotland can make the transition from a Yes vote to becoming an independent country.

They will set out ideas and options for how we can use the powers of independence to build a better future – to grow a stronger and more sustainable economy, tackle poverty and inequality, better meet the climate challenge and expand opportunity for our country and for each and every person who lives here.

Scotland’s people are moving the country towards independence. Our will cannot be undermined and the SNP is fighting for a Scotland which will be able to make its own decisions. We can achieve that with independence.

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SCOTLAND’S RIGHT REFUSED

BORIS JOHNSON REFUSES FIRST MINISTER NICOLA STURGEON’S, REQUEST FOR INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM

Boris Johnson is continuing to ignore Scotland’s right to determine our own future. Instead, he will decide it for us.

The people of Scotland have expressed their right to self-determination in the 2016 Scottish election, 2017 General Election, 2019 EU elections, and the 2019 General Election.

The clearest mandate was given in December when the SNP won a higher percentage of seats and votes in Scotland than the Tories did across the UK. There is a stronger mandate for an independence referendum than there is for a Tory government.

Instead of giving a positive case for the UK, Tories – and Labour – are trying to block Scotland having a say.

Whether you voted yes or no, leave or remain, and whether you have changed your mind since, we must protect Scotland’s right to decide our own future – not have it decided for us.

It’s not Boris Johnson’s choice. It’s Scotland’s choice.

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BREXIT DELAY NEEDED FOR DEVOLVED DEBATE

‘Scottish and Welsh First Ministers press EU for Brexit delay’

If Johnson’s Tories want to prove that they care about Scotland’s voice in the UK, they would afford adequate time for the Scottish Parliament to be able to properly scrutinise Johnson’s deal.

The magnitude of this decision will affect Scotland and the rest of the UK for decades to come. Devolved institutions must be allowed to carry out their constitutional and democratic functions.

Johnson’s deal will undoubtedly be more damaging than Theresa May’s as workers’ rights and environmental protections have been chopped off.

More concerned with protecting their party and careers, Scottish Tory MPs have announced they will all vote for Johnson’s deal.

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SUPREME COURT RULES JOHNSON ACTED ILLEGALLY

The Supreme Court has delivered a unanimous judgement that Boris Johnson acted illegally when he prorogued Parliament. No longer able to act like a tinpot dictator, Parliament will be reconvened to hold him to account. He must, for once, do the decent thing and resign.

SNP MPs will not allow Johnson to railroad his no deal Brexit plans through. So long as a no deal Brexit can be prevented, we will not hesitate to tear down this right wing Tory Government and make Johnson resign. Scotland will not be silenced.

We will oppose Johnson’s Brexit plans, the Tories’ austerity agenda, and ensure Scotland’s sovereign Parliament is protected.