Scottish Government accused of ‘irresponsible nationalism’ over transport review
Published: 05/10/2021- 14:44
Updated: 14/02/2023- 11:32
Scotland Secretary Alister Jack has accused the Scottish Government of “irresponsible nationalism” for failing to get involved with a review of transport links.
Sir Peter Hendy, the current chairman of Network Rail and former commissioner of Transport for London (TfL), will publish his Union Connectivity Review soon.
He was tasked by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to examine transport infrastructure across the UK and consider where future spending could be targeted.
Mr Jack told the Conservative Party conference in Manchester: “It’s an incredibly important document to be published shortly.
“I’d say on a personal note I’m very dismayed the Scottish Government has not engaged in the Union connectivity review.
“The Transport Secretary, Michael Matheson, told his civil servants not to give Sir Peter any data or to engage with him whatsoever, which to me is irresponsible nationalism.
“It’s putting their desire for separation, and not to be part of the United Kingdom, ahead of people’s livelihoods, ahead of jobs.”
Mr Jack claimed this was part of a “pattern” of behaviour from the Scottish Government, adding they did not engage with Westminster over other matters including the UK Internal Market Act.
This legislation set out how trade within the UK operates post-Brexit, but critics warned the Act represented a power grab by Westminster at the expense of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Government later made changes following several defeats in the House of Lords but the SNP continued to warn it would “demolish devolution”.
The Scottish Government has previously argued transport is devolved to Holyrood and asked the Conservatives to respect this rather than engage in a “power grab”.
A spokesman for Net Zero, Energy and Transport Secretary Mr Matheson said: “We’ll take no lectures on cooperation from a UK Government which recently ignored 19 separate requests for a ministerial meeting with the Scottish Government on a single issue.
“We will engage with the UK Government in Scotland’s best interests but we will not be complicit in Tory attempts at a power grab on the Scottish Parliament, or their bid to encourage a race to the bottom on workers’ rights and environmental standards.”