HOLYROOD’S Unionist party leaders are facing an avalanche of questions from the SNP on their “continued support for Westminster control”.

The SNP have compiled a list of 60 questions they said the Tories, Labour and the LibDems must answer to make the case for staying in the Union.

Keith Brown, the party’s deputy leader, said the Yes side of the constitutional debate had put forward a “refreshed and compelling” case for independence but claimed Unionists had failed to make the case for “broken Brexit Britain”.

He added: “That is why we have presented them with these 60 questions. In the interests of a fair, balanced and fully informed debate, it is essential that there is an equivalent amount of detail from those who argue to maintain Westminster control.”

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Scottish Labour, the Scottish Conservatives and the Scottish LibDems were challenged by The National on some of the key points raised by the SNP.

The leaders were asked how Scotland could “reject” Tory policies being “imposed” on the country, despite only six Conservatives representing Scottish seats.

The Tories’ best recent Westminster election result north of the Border was in 2017, when the party took its total of Scottish MPs to 13 – their best showing since 1983.

More than half were lost in the 2019 General Election, taking the party down to its current levels.

In another question, opposition leaders were asked if they were able to give assurances that public services in the UK would not be privatised “against the wishes of the Scottish Parliament” under post-Brexit legislation.

Most recently, the UK Government has ignored Holyrood’s objections to its Internal Market Act, which critics on both the Unionist and independence sides said undermines the devolution settlement.

Now ministers in Westminster are looking at the possibility of blocking the Scottish Government’s gender recognition reforms, with Scottish Secretary Alister Jack threatening the possibility of instructing the King to not sign it into law.

Opposition leaders have also been asked by the SNP how the “anti-immigration Westminster Government” will solve Scotland’s population crisis, triggered by a shrinking cohort of people of working age which the SNP want to see bolstered by immigration.

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And they were challenged on Westminster power grabs – including the controversial UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which allows the UK Government to directly fund projects in Scotland, bypassing the Scottish Parliament – even in devolved areas of spending.

This move was praised by Rishi Sunak during the Tory leadership hustings during the summer.

They were also asked why all parties had abandoned ambitions for Scotland to be a “member of UK which is in EU” – a key promise of the Better Together campaign in the 2014 referendum.

Brown said: “It cannot be clearer that Westminster control is not working for Scotland. So, on behalf of the people of Scotland, we are asking Holyrood’s opposition leaders to answer the Westminster Questions.   

“Westminster control has resulted in decades of decline and Brexit is making that decline faster and deeper, causing untold economic harm to Scotland’s people, businesses and future prosperity.   

“Brexit doesn’t work, it never has worked, and it never will work, yet all three opposition parties at Holyrood now support it and none has explained how they would reverse that dismal downwards trend.   

“Meanwhile nations of a similar size to Scotland are outperforming the UK on a whole range of measures – they are more productive, more equal and have lower poverty rates.   

“While the Scottish Government is presenting a refreshed and compelling economic case for independence, we are yet to hear from those politicians who campaign for Westminster control how they will protect Scotland from the spiralling cost-of-living crisis in broken Brexit Britain.   

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“That is why we have presented them with these 60 questions. In the interests of a fair, balanced and fully informed debate, it is essential that there is an equivalent amount of detail from those who argue to maintain Westminster control.   

"Those leading the anti-independence parties have a responsibility to answer the crunch questions such as why the UK has become one of the developed world’s most unequal countries and, with independence working so well for our neighbours, why don’t they believe it would be the same for Scotland?   

“The reality is there is no case for continued Westminster control in Scotland, yet Labour, the LibDems and the Tories continue to campaign to force policies on Scotland that we did not vote for.   

“Chief amongst them is Brexit, which they all now support despite it hammering Scotland’s economy every single day. They have stopped even trying to justify Brexit because they can’t.   

“The only way for Scotland to escape the chaos and damage of Westminster control is to forge our own path as an independent country.” 

A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: “While everyone else in the country spent some time over the last few days catching up with loved ones, Keith Brown appears to have spent the time coming up with this bizarre list. His friends and family have our sympathies”

Christine Jardine, the MP for Edinburgh West, said: "We are not 'controlled' by Westminster, but part of it, and perhaps if the SNP remembered that they might actually fulfil that promise to be a louder voice for Scotland, rather than just a whining one for the SNP.

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“For years now, our politics has been characterized by the regressive, narrow-minded and mirror-image identity politics of the Conservatives and the SNP. Chaos is still chaos whether it comes wrapped in Tory blue or the acid yellow of the SNP. 

“Scottish Liberal Democrats have never abandoned our pro-European position. Liberal Democrats have worked tirelessly to get an Erasmus replacement scheme up and running, one of the many casualties of Brexit. The SNP have done next to nothing on this. As well as being happy to build yet more walls and barriers, this was a party which spent more time fighting a Shetland by-election than it ever did on the EU referendum.”

The questions in full

1. Why do Westminster party politicians argue that Scotland hasn’t got what it takes to be an independent country? 

2. Why isn’t Westminster working for Scotland but independence works for our neighbours? 

3. Why does the UK have the lowest cumulative GDP per person of any north-west European country for the 21st century? 

4. Why does the UK have the highest poverty rate in north-west Europe for all of the 21st century? 

5. Why does the UK have the lowest productivity out of all neighbouring countries in north-west Europe? 

6. Why does the UK have the worst income inequality of any country in north-west Europe for all of the 21st century? 

7. Why is the UK lagging behind independent neighbouring nations in north-west Europe? 

8. Why does the UK sit at the bottom of the wage league table among north-west European neighbours? 

9. What will you do to narrow the huge regional differences in GDP per head, which are greater in the UK than in any other EU country? 

10. How many fiscal positions did the UK have in the month of October 2022? 

11. What will the UK’s fiscal position be at the time of the next Westminster election? 

12. What will the UK's national debt be by the end of this Parliament? 

13. Can you guarantee future Westminster governments will retain the Barnett formula, which is used to calculate Scotland's annual grant from the Treasury? 

14. If the Barnett formula is scrapped, by how much would Scotland’s budget be cut? 

15. How many more children will be living in poverty in Scotland by 2025 as a result of Westminster policies? 

16. What will UK personal tax rates be in 2024 and beyond, and how will Westminster improve the tax system, including collection? 

17. Will the rate of VAT be increased, cut, or stay the same in 2024 and beyond? 

18. Will you guarantee the minimum wage will always rise at least in line with the cost of living? 

19. Will you guarantee to maintain the triple lock on the State Pension – already one of the worst in Europe? 

20. Will Scotland’s age profile be taken into account when decisions over the state pension age are made? 

21. What will be the state retirement age for people in Scotland who are starting work this year?  

22. Will all current social security benefits paid by Westminster be uprated in line with inflation? 

23. When will Westminster expand childcare to match the best provision in Europe? 

24. Will the bedroom tax ever be abolished? 

25. If the bedroom tax remains, what guarantees can be given that will not be extended to pensioners? 

26. The Tories have just six MPs in Scotland, yet Scotland is governed by the Tories at Westminster. How can they guarantee Scotland won’t get policies it rejects imposed upon it? 

27. What guarantees can you give that many public services will not face privatisation pressures against the wishes of the Scottish Parliament under post-Brexit legislation? 

28. What guarantee can the Westminster parties give Scotland that so-called levelling up funds will be equitably distributed across Britain? 

29. What will the impact be on Scottish families of the new public spending cuts soon to be announced by the Chancellor? 

30. How can Scotland grow the working population when an anti-immigration Westminster Government retains powers of immigration to Scotland? 

31. Why does Westminster continue to advocate for nuclear power instead of prioritising Scotland’s vast potential for cheap, clean, renewable energy? 

32. How much will Scottish taxpayers have to pay for the replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system? 

33. How will Westminster accelerate investment in hydrogen technology which has the potential to be transformational for Scotland’s economy? 

34. In 2014, Scotland was told it'd be an equal partner within the union. So why has Westminster taken powers from Scotland against the express wishes of the Scottish Parliament? 

35. In 2014 the UK government “confirmed” North East Scotland as location of a carbon capture facility. So why did they ditch it in 2021? 

36. In 2014 Scotland voted for more powers for the Scottish Parliament. So why has Westminster taken powers away and introduced legislation with executive powers to override those powers in future? 

37. In 2014, Scotland was told to vote No to protect the NHS. So why have the Tories voted against protecting the NHS from being opened up to US-style private health corporations in future trade deals? 

38. As the NHS in England is increasingly opened to private involvement – and because a reduction in funding for public services in England trigger cuts in the Scottish budget – has any study been done of the impact on Scotland of increasing privatisation of the NHS in England. 

39. Have you assessed the impact Westminster welfare cuts will have on Scotland's NHS? 

40. In 2014 the anti-independence campaign said vote No to stay in the EU. In 2016 Scotland voted Remain. So why in 2020 did Westminster Tories drag Scotland out of the EU against the wishes of what people told they would be voting for in 2014? 

41. Before the 2014 referendum the 'No' Campaign said: ". . . we support Scotland being member of UK which is in EU. All parties that make up Better Together support EU membership. . . ". Why have all those parties now abandoned that position which was the basis for a ‘No’ vote in 2014? 

42. Before the 2014 referendum the 'No' Campaign said "aspart of the UK, households pay up to £189 less on their energy bills. . . ". Why then are people facing energy bill increases far greater than that figure? 

43. Before the 2014 referendum the 'No' Campaign repeatedly said Scotland would be an equal partner in the UK. Why then is the Westminster government imposing unwanted policies on Scotland and ignoring majority votes in the Scottish Parliament against their policies? 

44. Before the 2014 referendum the 'No' Campaign said voting ‘Yes’ would remove people’s EU citizenship. So why has that EU citizenship been removed after a ‘No’ vote? 

45. Before the 2014 referendum the 'No' Campaign said voting ‘No’ means we stay in the EU. Since we are no longer in the EU what plans do the ‘No’ parties have to rectify what people voted for in 2014? 

46. Before the 2014 referendum the 'No' Campaign parties signed a pledge saying that voting ‘No’ would means “Power lies with the Scottish people and we believe it is for the Scottish people to decide how Scotland is governed. ” Why have they broken that pledge? 

47. Before the 2014 referendum the 'No' Campaign made promises that “Govan and Scotstoun will get the order for 13 Type-26 frigates from the Royal Navy”. How many Type-26 frigates have been ordered from the Clyde shipyards since then? 

48. Before the 2014 referendum the 'No' Campaign said that “we are better placed to support the most vulnerable in Scotland” with a ‘No’ vote. So why is Gordon Brown now saying he has never seen poverty so bad? 

49. Before the 2014 referendum the Scotland Office issued a press release boasting that the UK Government protects civil service jobs in Scotland. How many of those jobs in reserved departments are there now in Scotland? 

50. Before the 2014 referendum the 'No' Campaign said that a ‘No’ vote would deliver “better, safer, faster change for Scotland”. Why then have there been five Prime Ministers, Brexit and repeated government turmoil since then? 

51. How did Boris Johnson become PM when in 2014 the head of the anti-independence campaign said the "clown” would never become Prime Minister? 

52. What powers will be given to Scotland to combat the disastrous effects of Brexit? 

53. What additional powers will be devolved to increase women’s participation in the labour market? 

54. What additional measures will be devolved to Scotland to boost Research and Development? 

55. Will additional competitive powers be devolved to encourage major firms to locate their HQs in Scotland? 

56. Will corporation tax be devolved to give businesses in Scotland a competitive edge? 

57. What powers will be devolved to encourage re-industrialisation and halt manufacturing decline? 

58. How much money per year will taxpayers in Scotland be expected to contribute to funding the unelected House of Lords? 

59. When will Westminster make good on its promise to fully replace, pound for pound, lost funding from the EU? 

60. What guarantee is there that Scotland will not be hit again by disproportionate defence staff cuts in the future?