THEY fly in, then they fly home. UK Tory ministers are now visiting Scotland every week on pit-stop publicity opportunities to sell the Union. The Conservative day-trippers are trying to communicate that they care about Scotland, but only remind everyone it is usually out of sight and out of mind. With sustained majority support for Scottish independence they know they have a problem.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s day trip yesterday reminded everyone that the pandemic furlough scheme is soon to come to an end, with appalling consequences for many. Even the Tory house journal The Daily Telegraph is writing, “The economic consequences of Mr Sunak ending the Government’s furlough scheme will go down as one of the biggest policy mistakes in modern British history”… and goes on to warn that: “Britain is heading for an unemployment crisis of biblical proportions by the end of the year unless the Treasury’s policy is torn up very soon.”

Rishi Sunak was not in Scotland to announce any changes to UK Treasury plans. Far from it. He ventured north of the Border to tell everybody how grateful we should all be. As with the usual UK Government stage management in Scotland, the details of the Sunak visit were not widely publicised even to much of the press.

He did a series of media interviews at a closed factory visit in Glasgow, including one with BBC Good Morning Scotland, where he told the nation’s listeners that Scotland as a “power brand” when it comes to UK tourism.

However, when he was asked why furlough support is not being extended in industries such as tourism, he said: “most reasonable people” will agree that the Government helping to pay private firms’ wages was “not something that can carry on indefinitely”.

Yet the tourism sector is one of the hardest already hit and the pain will continue until at least next year’s tourist season. A wave of increasing unemployment is expected to crash across the Scottish and UK economies in the next months as the furlough scheme ends. Estimates of 7.5% unemployment by the end of 2020 are only a part of the severe economic and social damage which will have a massive impact on individuals, families and communities.

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The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee believes the recovery will slow down dramatically in the autumn and that gross domestic product will only return to its pre-Covid peak at the end of 2021. Sunak was put on the spot about not providing the Scottish Government with the necessary borrowing powers to deal with the scale of the coronavirus problem.

He kicked the issue into the long grass of a review next year which, of course, will miss the immediate crisis of dealing with the impact of the pandemic. Repeated requests for change have been made to the UK Government, including one together with the Welsh and Northern Irish finance ministers. Scotland’s Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has said: “If we are to meet the challenges of coronavirus, we require additional fiscal flexibility. It is disappointing the UK Government failed to agree to this … the powers we and the other devolved governments seek are reasonable, straightforward and would not cost the UK Government a penny.”

Explaining the need for borrowing powers, she said: “At the moment, for example, I can’t take money from the capital budget, which we have been unable to spend because of Covid-19, and use it for revenue.

“Yet it is revenue that pays for our health services and schools, supports businesses and keeps our transport systems running. Unlike other countries across the world, we cannot respond quickly to emerging needs by borrowing, leaving us overly dependent on policy decisions made by the UK Government.”

That dependence is exactly what Rishi Sunak and new Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross want. The two met during Sunak’s day trip yesterday to discuss their future plans, just as Ross had met Ruth Davidson days before Jackson Carlaw was given the boot. All of them are shaken by the majority polling support for Scottish independence and the SNP.

In his first gaffe since becoming leader, Ross has already conceded defeat in next year’s Scottish Parliament election. His target is to lead a “strong” Tory Party that will provide “opposition” to the SNP.

Nobody in the SNP and wider independence movement should take that as any guarantee. Despite double-digit polling leads nothing should be taken for granted.

In the run-up to the Scottish Parliament election, hopefully UK Tory ministers will continue with their day-tripping strategy.

It helpfully reminds people in Scotland we are governed by a party that hasn’t won an election here since 1955 and that it’s high time we were governed by the people we vote for.