Only SNP offering route back to EU

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Only SNP offering route back to EU

Getty Images Mairi McAllanGetty Images

Energy Secretary Mairi McAllan says young Scots have been let down by Westminster

The SNP is the only party offering Scotland a route back into the European Union, Energy Secretary Mairi McAllan has claimed.

She accused the Conservatives and Labour of having “utterly abandoned Scotland’s European future” at a general election campaign event with First Minister John Swinney.

Mr Swinney said a generation of young people had been “robbed of opportunity” by Westminster, citing Brexit, austerity and the cost of living crisis.

Election manifestos are yet to be published, but the Scottish Greens also support Scotland rejoining the EU.

Getty Images John Swinney and Mairi McAllanGetty Images

First Minister John Swinney joined Mairi McAllan at a campaign event in Edinburgh

The Liberal Democrats, who vehemently opposed Brexit before and after the 2016 referendum, have refused to confirm their manifesto would include a commitment to seek EU membership.

Ms McAllan, during a visit to the Corstorphine area of Edinburgh, echoed Mr Swinney’s comments, saying a “generation of young people are being let down by Westminster policies”.

On the EU membership, the SNP minister told BBC Scotland News: “We are now the only party who is looking to return Scotland to the EU, who values our position in the EU and values everything that that brings to people in Scotland and young people.”

One of the SNP’s central aims is for Scotland to rejoin the EU as an independent nation.

Ms McAllan said that while that was not “going to happen tomorrow”, it would benefit Scotland financial and culturally.

She added that she benefited from the Erasmus scheme while she was at university, which allows students to study in other EU countries.

“It breaks my heart that young people don’t have that opportunity now,” Ms McAllan said.

“We’re the only party who is offering a route back to the EU.”

‘Stand firmly against austerity’

Both the Conservatives and Labour remain opposed to the UK rejoining the EU, and have also rejected the possibility of a youth mobility scheme between the EU and UK.

The Office for Budget Responsibility has estimated that Brexit, under the current trade arrangements, will reduce long-run productivity in the UK by 4% compared to if it remained in the EU.

The Scottish government says that equates to £3bn a year in lost public revenues north of the border.

Ms McAllan, 31, said people about her age had lived their “entire adult life under Westminster austerity”.

“We are the only party who stand firmly against austerity,” she added, pointing to the Scottish government’s “progressive” tax regime which sees the country have six tax bands while the rest of the UK has three.

The Scottish Fiscal Commission has estimated the changes would raise about £1.5bn more than if Scotland still had UK income tax rates.

Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems have all ruled out raising value added tax (VAT) if they win the general election.

Ms McAllan said the move would be “welcomed” by businesses in Scotland.

PA Media Lorna Slater PA Media

Green co-leader Lorna Slater has railed against alleged encroachment from Westminster on devolved issues

The Scottish Greens, meanwhile, held a small photocall outside the UK government’s Edinburgh headquarters, claiming that UK ministers were “increasingly encroaching” on devolved areas.

Co-leader Lorna Slater used the event to argue that the first past the post voting system and the House of Lords were examples of “what’s wrong with the union.”

She also said that despite the party standing in more Westminster seats than ever before, their focus was on the next Scottish Parliament election in 2026.

She added: “We focus our energies where we can get many more MSPs elected.”

The Lib Dems, meanwhile, have pledged to “fix our broken politics”.

It came after former minister Michael Matheson was handed a record 27-day ban from Holyrood after he was found to have broken the code of conduct for MSPs.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton called for a system of recall at Holyrood, similar to that used for MPs at Westminster.

His party also called for greater transparency, an end to what they call “government by WhatsApp”, and a written constitution for the UK.

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