Rishi’s showdown with Nicola Sturgeon on gender rules and referendum: Sunak and SNP chief will meet in Scotland TODAY
- Rishi Sunak is visiting Scotland for the first time since becoming Prime Minister
- He will hold face-to-face talks with SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon during the visit
- UK and Scots governments at loggerheads on independence and gender rules
Rishi Sunak is set for a showdown with Nicola Sturgeon as he visits Scotland for the first time as PM today.
The premier will hold face-to-face talks with Ms Sturgeon amid bitter clashes between the governments over the SNP‘s independence drive and gender identity rules.
Details of the two-day visit are being kept tightly under wraps, but Mr Sunak is expected to hail plans for two new ‘green’ freeports near Edinburgh and Inverness.
Relations between the UK and Scottish administrations has been strained by Ms Sturgeon’s continuing push to break up the union.
Mr Sunak has refused to give permission for another referendum north of the border, after both sides accepted the 2014 contest would settle the issue for a ‘generation’.
Rishi Sunak (left) is set for a showdown with Nicola Sturgeon (right) as he visits Scotland for the first time as PM today
Veteran SNP MP says Nicola Sturgeon’s independence ploy is a ‘massive gamble’
A veteran SNP MP has warned Nicola Sturgeon‘s ploy of making the next election a ‘de facto’ Scottish independence referendum is a ‘massive gamble’ that could kill of the nationalists’ ambitions.
Pete Wishart has branded the tactic ‘the worst possible way to settle the constitutional future’ in an incendiary blog.
But he highlighted the dilemma the separatists now face by admitting it was now the only option left open.
Ms Sturgeon has attempted to put a brave face on her political position since the Supreme Court ruled in October that she cannot proceed with another referendum without approval from Westminster.
In an article on his blog, Mr Wishart – who recently stood down from the SNP’s Westminster front bench – spelled out his own concerns about the approach.
‘A de facto referendum is now the only way we’re going to be able to settle the constitutional future of Scotland,’ he wrote.
The Supreme Court blocked an attempt by Ms Sturgeon to proceed without the approval of Westminster.
However, there is also a major flashpoint over gender recognition laws passed by Holyrood before Christmas.
The changes would loosen the rules by lowering age limits for officially switching identity, and removing the requirement for a medical diagnosis.
UK ministers are alarmed that would cause chaos with certificates issued in Scotland not valid in England, and could step in to prevent the law going ahead – or leave it to the courts to strike out.
Although it is Mr Sunak’s first visit to Scotland as PM, he has held talks with Ms Sturgeon before and the pair met at the British-Irish Council Summit in Blackpool.
At PMQs yesterday Mr Sunak said he wants to work with the Scottish Government on the issue of the North Sea oil and gas industry.
But he claimed Ms Sturgeon’s Government ‘don’t want to support the Scottish energy industry and the 200,000 jobs that it produces’.
He was responding to SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, who said Scotland’s membership of the UK union ‘simply doesn’t add up’.
Mr Sunak said: ‘I’m keen to work with the Scottish Government to support the North Sea because it’s something that we’re all very proud of in the UK.’
According to The Telegraph, the new freeports will be at Cromarty Firth, near Inverness, and on the Firth of Forth, near Edinburgh.
The green freeports are aimed at boosting investment and growth through the use of tax incentives.