Suella Braverman has torn apart the SNP’s proposal to legalise drugs during a behind-closed-doors meeting with Scotland’s Justice Secretary.
The Home Secretary warned the Scottish Government that its proposals to decriminalise drugs for personal use would lead to “untold damage to our neighbourhoods”.
Scottish Drug Minister Elena Whitham announced the SNP's plans on Friday.
The proposal also included a framework for the creation of safe consumption rooms and the consideration of implementing the regulated supply of drugs.
Social Justice Secretary Shirley Anne-Somerville makes a statement in the main chamber of the Scottish Parliament
Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman slammed the proposals, which require the approval of the UK Government, within just an hour.
Braverman doubled-down on the Prime Minister’s criticism yesterday during a “fiery” meeting with Scottish Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville.
She said: “To be clear, this Government will not be changing our policy on personal use of illegal drugs.”
Braverman added: “I am very clear that illegal drugs destroy lives and communities - they are devastating.
The Home Secretary held a “fiery” meeting with Scottish Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville
“The proposals I read from the Scottish National Party last week are irresponsible and would do untold damage to our neighbourhoods.
“We’re focused on protecting people and preventing lives from being ruined, targeting gangs and preventing supply of drugs from overseas.
“We’ve absolutely no intention of decriminalising illegal drug use and I think the Scottish National Party should focus their efforts on what powers they do have such as reforming health outcomes for the Scottish people.
“Drug deaths are still a huge problem in Scotland and this Government is keen to work together to try to tackle that problem and prevent the very levels of drug deaths in Scotland.”
Former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (left) with Scottish Drug Minister Elena Whitham (right)
The readout from Scotland’s Social Justice Secretary revealed the two Governments would always “fundamentally disagree” on drugs.
A spokesman for Somerville added: “It is disappointing to see well-evidenced proposals once again being rejected in such a high-handed manner, without the UK Government even having gone to the bother of giving them proper consideration.
“This is a serious issue, and we all agree on the need to save lives and reduce harm - which we believe is best done by treating this as a public health issue.
“Westminster is out of touch with the general public, who rightly expect a mature and open-minded debate about the right way forward.
“The Scottish Government is ready and willing to work constructively with the UK Government, the political parties at Holyrood and of course stakeholders more widely to make progress.”
Scotland topped the UK’s drug misuse deaths league table in 2020, with its crude rate per million standing at 245.
England’s figure stood at just 50 and Wales was marginally lower on 47.
Scotland has also had the highest level of drug-related deaths in Western Europe in recent years, with the number recorded reaching 1,330 in 2021.