IAN Blackford has blasted as a "disgrace" the Chancellor's plan to cut tax on flights across the UK.

The SNP's Westminster leader demanded Rishi Sunak reverse the move which he controversially announced today in his Budget just ahead of the COP26 to fight climate change.

“COP26 kicks off this week, what on earth are we doing when we’re saying to the rest of the world that the Prime Minister has spoken today about the importance of 1.5 (degrees) … and the Chancellor wants to cut air passenger duty for domestic flights, and I can see him nodding his head, and increase air passenger duty admittedly on long-haul flights.

"But the fact is that C02 emissions per mile are much higher on domestic flights than they are on long-haul flights," said Blackford.

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“Chancellor, this is a disgrace and shows quite frankly that this is not a Government that understands the climate challenge that we all face and the Chancellor should withdraw and remove that proposal.”

He added: “If he think’s that he’s going to cut air passenger duty for Inverness and the Highlands and Islands, then he’s wrong because there is no APD in Inverness and one would have thought if he’s going to make announcements he would have checked facts before he makes them.”

Commenting later, Scottish Greens finance spokesperson, Ross Greer MSP, said: “This is a budget written for the Tories' corporate donors, not for the millions of people across the UK who desperately need help after a decade of Westminster austerity and a disastrous Brexit process.

"It certainly wasn't written with the planet's future in mind either. To cut aviation taxes just days before hosting COP26 has confirmed the UK Government's reputation as an international embarrassment."

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Sunak unveiled the move in his Budget which he presented in the House of Commons this afternoon saying it would strengthen the Union.

"We used to have a return leg exemption for domestic flights but we were required to remove it in 2001," he said.

"But today I can announce that the flights between airports in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will from April 2023 be subject to new lower rate of air passenger duty. 

"This will help cut the cost of living with nine million passengers seeing their duty cut by half. We will bring people together across the United Kingdom.

"And because they tend to have a different proportion of domestic passengers it is a boost to regional airports like Aberdeen, Belfast and Southampton."

Blackford also said the Budget "did nothing to tackle the cost of living crisis" and that it would not address rising poverty levels amid the pandemic and Brexit.

"It's increasingly clear that there will be no fair recovery under Westminster control. The only way to keep Scotland safe from Tory cuts is to become an independent country," he said.

"No amount of smoke and mirrors can disguise the fact that the UK Budget has short-changed Scotland, and left millions of families hundreds of pounds worse off next year due to Tory cuts, tax hikes and the soaring cost of Brexit.

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"Under the Tories, the UK has the worst levels of poverty and inequality in north west Europe and the highest levels of in-work poverty this century. Yet, this Budget did nothing to tackle the Tory cost of living crisis. The piecemeal measures won't even offset Tory Universal Credit cuts, National Insurance hikes or rising inflation, let alone boost incomes."

He said: "The Tory government has short-changed Scotland by billions of pounds. It has broken its pledge to invest in Scottish carbon capture projects, failed to match the Scottish Government's £500 million Just Transition Fund, failed to fully replace EU funding for Scottish local authorities, and failed to compensate Scotland for the damage of Brexit.

"It beggars belief that the Tories expect us to be grateful even though they are making families poorer and robbing Scotland of investment."