Michael Gove brands Scottish Government ‘a disaster’ in the Commons

Michael Gove brands Scottish Government ‘a disaster’ in the Commons

The Scottish Government is a “disaster”, Michael Gove has said, as he claimed organisations north of the border are appealing directly to Westminster for cash.

The Communities Secretary was cut off by Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle for speaking at length as he mocked the SNP over its recent “travails”.

Peter Murrell, the SNP’s former chief executive – who is married to Nicola Sturgeon – was last week charged by police in connection with the alleged embezzlement of funds.

As Mr Gove took questions in the Commons, SNP communities spokeswoman Anum Qaisar said: “The Tories continually prioritise their banker mates over the rest of the country.

“We know that, and an example of this was in the spring budget where the Chancellor announced levelling-up funding for Canary Wharf, an area home to some of the world’s biggest banks, which will receive more than £16,000 per head in funding commitments compared to Scotland.

“With the Leader of the Opposition and his Labour Party backing Tory tax and spending plans, U-turning on capping banker’s bonuses, does the minister agree with me that the Labour Party offer no real alternative for the people of Scotland?”

Mr Gove replied: “I think SNP press releases have suffered recently as a result of the travails that the chief executive of that party has been suffering.

“But as SNP press releases go, that has to be one of the weakest I have ever heard in this House.

“The Scottish Government at the moment are closing Visit Scotland centres, they can’t deliver ferries, Scotland is plunging down educational league tables, and when it comes to delivering services in Scotland, theatres, community centres and councils are coming to us for cash.”

Mr Gove was cut off by the Speaker as he said: “The Scottish Government is a disaster and all she can do is repeat the failed talking points…”

Sir Lindsay chided the senior Cabinet minister for speaking at length during a topical question, which are meant to be answered briefly.

Elsewhere, SNP MP Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran) pressed Mr Gove about whether a road building project in her area would go ahead with extra levelling-up funding after costs had increased due to inflation.

She said: “The levelling-up funding awarded to my constituency three years ago for the upgrade of the B714 is not still delivered.

“However, when raising concerns that this funding is insufficient for this upgrade given inflationary pressures, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up told me to raise this with the Department for Transport, which in turn referred me back to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up.

“Can I have an explanation from the Secretary of State as to how approved projects can proceed as envisaged even if funding is delivered, if inflation is not factored into this funding?”

Mr Gove offered the MP a meeting with him, alongside the local council and MSP, before adding: “I know that she is absolutely committed to making sure that levelling-up fund, UK Government money, is spent effectively in her constituency. Proof that we work better together.”

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