Michael Gove hits out at SNP over £200m Brexit cash row – ‘Should be accountable!’

Brexit: European Council can apply deal alone says expert

Speaking at Holyrood’s Europe Committee this afternoon, Mr Gove asked the Scottish Government to publish a list of how the £200m was spent. The Cabinet Office Minister claimed the UK Government awarded the SNP led administration “just shy” of £200 million to prepare for leaving the EU, compared to Northern Ireland who received £400 million.

 

 

Mr Gove made the calls following a question from Scottish Tory MSP Oliver Mundell.

Mr Mundell said he had issues with a “lack of transparency” on the funding from businesses.

Mr Gove made clear he shouldn’t tell a devolved government how to spend the money but stressed: “They should be accountable to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish people for how it’s spent.

“The National Audit Office audits the UK Government and quite rightly asks questions about expenditure.

“I think that Mike [Russell] and other Scottish Government ministers should present an itemised account of exactly how that money has been spent, because like you, I’ve heard one or two voices of concern from some in business.

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“I’m sure that the Scottish Government would be able to allay those concerns if they were fully transparent about that expenditure.”

SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson claimed Scotland should be entitled to £1.4 billion if the funding was issued based on population after Northern Ireland was awarded more cash.

But Mr Gove hit back and stressed the UK government were trying to avoid “pitting parts of the UK against each other” over funding for preparations to leave the EU, MSPs have been told.

Mr Gove said it was a “fair challenge” to ask why Scotland did not receive a population-based share of funding.

But he stressed he wanted to ensure “that the people of Northern Ireland are able to enjoy the fruits of peace and prosperity” as part of the divorce agreement.

Mr Gove went on to say that the UK was built on “solidarity and sharing”, and would help countries within the Union that had faced “challenges” in the past.

Mr Gove said: “Pitting one part of the United Kingdom by saying it’s not fair that Northern Ireland benefits … that’s not the sort of thing that I’m terribly keen on.

“My view is that the United Kingdom is built on solidarity and sharing and that the United Kingdom benefits from the fact that those parts of the UK that may have had a tougher time in the past, we stand by and we support.

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“That’s one of the reasons why, from Lanarkshire to Larne, the UK Government spends the money that it does – because we want to show solidarity with those who may have endured whether it was deindustrialisation in the past or other challenges.”

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his cabinet he was committed to continuing negotiations on the remaining areas of disagreement and re-emphasised the desire to strike a Brexit trade deal.

A deal remains close on the level playing field however divisions still remain on state aid and fisheries as talks continue.

Mr Gove said he remained “optimistic” a deal could be secured and added: “The sooner we can get a deal, the better it will be for everyone. “

Brexit: European Council can apply deal alone says expert

A UK Government source told Express.co.uk: “The UK is taking a proactive approach to the talks and wants to secure a deal as soon as possible.”

The Scottish Government has been approached for comment on the matter.


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