NICOLA Sturgeon has dubbed the Union Connectivity review a “power grab” and called for infrastructure funding to be distributed through the Scottish parliament.

During an exchange at FMQs, Sturgeon said that she didn’t think there was “much” for Scotland in the report and that it was instead a bid by UK ministers to take decisions around issues devolved to Holyrood.

The First Minister poked fun at Boris Johnson’s Scotland-Northern Ireland bridge which was promised and then cancelled, before warning that the Tory government has a history of reneging on commitments.

She also called for assurances that any funding promised through the review isn’t taken away from the existing Scottish Government budget, echoing calls from Finance Secretary Kate Forbes.

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The Union Connectivity review pledged to create a strategic transport network across the UK, but as transport is devolved to the Scottish Parliament, concerns have been raised that it is part of the UK's attempt to legislate in these areas, bypassing devolved administrations. 

Tory MSP Graham Simpson asked the First Minister for her response to the connectivity review on Thursday.

The First Minister said that she only saw the report when it was published and the government will take time to consider their response.

She added: “I don't think there's much in this review for Scotland, to be perfectly honest, although we are very happy to discuss and consider what benefits that there might be.

“What there is in it is an attempted power grab, taking decisions around priorities away from Scottish ministers, with a suggestion of funding improvements on one route being dangled in front of us.

“So if UK ministers really want to be helpful, why don't they just deliver the funding needed for infrastructure investment in line with the established budgetary mechanisms for Scotland, so that this democratically elected parliament can determine our own spending priorities in line with the devolution settlement?”

The National:

Simpson (pictured above) claimed that if the First Minister had “bothered to read” the review it states that both governments should work together.

He said: “Well, it's perfectly obvious from that answer that the First Minister hasn't read a word of the review because it does nothing, nothing that she is suggesting that it does.

“I was pleased to hear from the Transport Minister earlier, who, unlike the First Minister, is prepared to have talks with the UK Government on the funding for the A75. That would be a good thing.

“Actually a theme throughout the review, if the First Minister bothers to read it, is that both governments should work together.”

The First Minister said that she will discuss with the UK Government how this will benefit Scotland.

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She added: “But let's not forget, it's not that long ago that we've been told this connectivity review was going to deliver a bridge from Scotland to Northern Ireland.

“And that was the big headline-grabbing commitment that seems to just have gone by the wayside.

“And on, you know, for example, the A75, there's no specific commitment to funding in that, so yes we will discuss that, but a really important thing we have to determine here is that these so-called promises actually are delivered in practice because what we often find is either that the promises don't materialise.”

The National:

Sturgeon called the connectivity review a "power grab" at FMQs

The First Minister cited how Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that the Treasury had confirmed they would help with the fall out from damage caused by Storm Arwen.

But, the Treasury later stated that it didn't involve any financial support.

Sturgeon continued: “We often have to scratch below the surface.

“The other thing we need to check is that it is additional funding that what they are giving us with one hand is not being taken away from us with the other hand because that very often turns out to be the case."

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In recent years, the Prime Minister along with Scottish Secretary Alister Jack have talked up a bridge or tunnel between Larne and Cairnryan to link the two islands – an idea which was heavily derided in Scotland and had a possible price tag of £33 billion.

The idea was ditched after the review concluded it would be "too technically challenging and expensive".

A UK Government spokesperson said: “People in Scotland expect both of Scotland’s governments to be working together on the issues that make a real difference to their lives, including bringing people and families closer together.

“So we welcome the First Minister’s commitment to engage with us on these proposals to improve connectivity between all parts of the UK, making it easier for more people to get to more places more quickly – while boosting jobs, prosperity and opportunity in Scotland.”