Mhairi Black challenges Scottish Secretary over support for Boris Johnson

THE SECRETARY of State for Scotland has been challenged over his support for Boris Johnson and his government’s plans to help Scots with the cost of living.

Alister Jack was questioned by MPs in the Commons during Scottish Questions, alongside his deputy Iain Stewart. 

Mhairi Black, the SNP MP for Paisley, asked what it would take for Mr Jack to call for the Prime Minister to resign, given that “80 per cent” of people in Scotland believe he should go.

She said: “Many in the public believe that the Prime Minister has a long history with racism, with homophobia, with misogyny.

“He has previously lost numerous jobs due to his level of dishonesty, presided over 150,000 deaths, the loss of nearly £5bn of public money to fraudsters and 80% of people in Scotland want him to resign;  the leader of the Scottish Tories wants him to resign.” 

She continued:” As Scotland’s only representative in the cabinet, what would it take for him to ask for the prime minister’s resignation?”

Mr Jack rejected her analysis and said Mr Johnson was “doing a fantastic job” by “focusing on the things that matter – delivering on the recovery from this pandemic, the vaccine program that he backed early on… trade deals that are going to improve the outcomes for Scottish food and drink and many other things.”

He added: “He is a very good leader… and you prejudge the outcome of the police inquiry.” 

Ian Murray, the Shadow Scottish Secretary, challenged Mr Jack on how his government were going to help Scots with the rising cost of living, including energy bills which could go up by as much as £600. 

He said: “Last night my colleagues and I voted to give every single Scottish household support towards the cost of their spiraling energy bills. Under Labour’s fully costed plans, we would save every household £200 in Scotland, and £600 for over 800,000 Scottish households hardest hit by the cost of living crisis. That’s proper action on this crisis.”

The Labour MP continued: “Given the SNP didn’t back these plans at the vote last night either, why are Scotland’s two governments refusing to take any action whatsoever to help Scots with spiraling energy costs?”

Mr Jack responded that the UK Government was helping people, by maintaining the cap on energy prices. 

He added: “We are providing £140 rebates on energy bills for 2.2 million houses with the lowest incomes and we have the £300 winter fuel payments for pensioners.” 

Mr Jack also told MPs that the UK and Scottish Governments were “very close” to agreeing on having a “freeport” set up in Scotland.

He said:” Today, Mr. Speaker, I’m very pleased to say that we’re very close to agreeing with the Scottish Government to freeports after a lot of initial opposition and resistance.” 

Asked about his views on Douglas Ross, following comments made by Jacob Rees-Mogg that he was a “lightweight”, Mr Jack said he had made his views “very clear” and added: “He holds Nicola Sturgeon to account and he has my full backing.”

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