The SNP deputy accused London of repeatedly trying to undermine the powers Scotland had secured through decentralization, and of influencing decisions that were only for Scotland. John Swinney launched an appeal to supporters of increased independence for the nation to “stand up” against “Westminster control freaks” who are threatening to take over. Addressing SNP party members at this week’s virtual conference, Mr Swinney said: “The direction of travel was clear – several decisions made in Scotland led to better decisions being made for Scotland.
“And despite Labor’s boasting that decentralization would kill nationalism stone dead, it has in fact proved conclusively that the people of Scotland are more than capable of governing ourselves.
“So it’s no wonder Westminster control freaks are so determined to undermine it.
“Publicly, the Tories say they are committed to making decentralization work, but behind the scenes, they plan to make it useless.”
He continued: “Boris Johnson will not stand up and announce to the jubilant Tory faithful that he is in the process of settling the decentralization settlement, just as I am sure he would like.
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“But make no mistake, piece by piece, decentralization is being quietly filleted, eroded from within by a Tory party that has always opposed the idea of anything but unrestricted Westminster control in Scotland.
“Like the climate emergency that is slowly creeping up on us every single day, we need to issue a red code of decentralization.
“All of us who care so much about the Scottish Parliament and its role in public life must stand up and be spoken to before it is too late.”
Swinney argued that “the only way to preserve the gains of decentralization is by becoming independent”, while suggesting that Mr Johnson’s party had “lost all moral authority to hold the highest offices in the country”.
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Referring to the Owen Paterson case, in which the Prime Minister sought to block his suspension for violating the rules on paid lobbying, the SNP deputy chief said: “The Tories have rewritten the definitions of camaraderie and corruption.
“And when they are seized by the rights of an independent inquiry, they also rewrite the rulebook.”
He added: “In a grotesque irony, the Tories are using something that the people of Scotland voted overwhelmingly against – Brexit – to undermine something they voted overwhelmingly for – the Scottish Parliament.
“Through the law of the internal market, the Tories have given themselves unrestricted power to determine the rules of the internal market – and to completely ignore the decentralization agreement if they want to.”
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SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford also renewed calls for a new independence referendum, despite Boris Johnson repeatedly saying he would not sign a new referendum.
Blackford said: “Independence is now the path to security and stability – it offers an escape from the constant crisis of Westminster control.
“Built on the solid foundation of our own democratic decisions, independence provides the opportunity to build the post-pandemic future we all want to see.
“The chance to build a new Scotland that finally takes its natural place among the nations of the world.”