Supreme authority! Boris to overrule SNP power and give Union cash after Sturgeon snub

Coronavirus: Sir Peter Hendy outlines rules for train passengers

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Ministers will provide billions of pounds of cash under a new Union transport plan for major infrastructure projects north of the border. The funding forms part of the Union Connectivity Review which aims to improve transport links across the four nations of the UK as part of the Prime Minister’s “levelling up agenda”.

The review undertaken by Network Rail Chairman Sir Peter Hendy is expected to be published later this month.

But SNP-led Scottish Government ministers have refused to take part in the review despite transport being devolved to Holyrood with Nationalist Ministers fearing their authority is being undermined.

The Express understands Michael Gove is due to unveil final spending plans in due course.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, who has held talks with the Levelling Up Secretary, said: “There is clearly a move, and I have been discussing it with Michael Gove this week, to accelerate the effort for levelling up and that is something Scotland will undoubtedly benefit from.


“And that will be in spite of, rather than because of, the efforts of the Scottish Government.

“They will at every opportunity seek to derail those plans.

“But this is another opportunity for the UK Government to show Scotland does have two governments.

“Both governments can invest in Scotland.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said the review was a potential “economic and lifestyle game-changer”.

The Scottish Secretary, who will discuss the plan at the Tory conference on Tuesday, said: “For the first time, we have taken a comprehensive look at connectivity across the UK as a whole.

“Sir Peter has identified key strategic corridors, the arteries through which the economic lifeblood of this country courses.

“His approach has not been to look at transport links individually, but to understand how they interconnect and interact, regardless of borders.

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“Evaluating road, rail, air and sea links in this holistic fashion can help us address the too-often sclerotic nature of transport today.

“That’s good for the companies involved, good for their customers, good for the environment, and a potential economic game-changer as we strive to level up communities.”

Tensions are also expected to raise around the dualling of the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen.

The Cooperation deal between the Scottish Greens and SNP means only 16 miles of road from Inverness to Nairn would be dualled, with the rest of the 104-mile route subject to a “climate compatibility assessment”.

SNP declined funding for rail investment says Alister Jack

But Mr Ross believes the UK Government could fully dual it without the involvement of Edinburgh. 

He said: “If the Scottish Government is not going to invest in the A96 because Green colleagues are telling them not to, why don’t we look at whether the UK Government will.”

Doubt has also been cast on the review after Chancellor Rishi Sunak refused to bring forward plans for a fixed link between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

This is despite a recommendation from Sir Peter in the review.

In response, a Scottish Government source said: “This is a power grab on devolution, Transport is devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

“The Tories should simply respect that.”

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