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A broken Budget

The biggest news from Westminster this week was Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s first Spring Budget and the UK Government’s first for 17 months.

Given the chaos that has surrounded the UK Government in recent times, Hunt was only the second out of the past five chancellors to have had the chance to hold the big red Budget box outside Number 11.

He announced funding for two projects in Scotland but, wait for it…one of them was in a Tory-controlled council area.

The Edinburgh Festivals are set to be given £8.6 million in funding while a further £1.5m will be stumped up by the Tories to repair the Cloddach Bridge in Moray – Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross’s constituency.

The National: Douglas Ross might be happy with the cash for his constituency, but the rest of us were left scratching our heads Douglas Ross might be happy with the cash for his constituency, but the rest of us were left scratching our heads (Image: PA)

Scottish whisky producers were also not pleased with the Chancellor's decision to raise the duty on Scotch whisky by 10.1%, the largest hike in recent decades. 

The UK is now due to avoid recession but people are still expected to face the biggest fall in living standards on record according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

The forecaster said the drop in living standards would be lower than previously expected but that real households’ disposable income per person would still tumble 5.7% over 2022/23 and 2023/24.

READ MORE: Stephen Flynn delivers scathing speech on Tory Budget

The SNP's Stewart Hosie said it was “truly pathetic” the Chancellor decided not to cut energy bills despite having “ample resources” to do so.

Rishi heats his pool

Also on Budget day, SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn called out Rishi Sunak for upgrading the energy grid around his mansion to heat his private pool.

It had been reported earlier this week that Sunak had paid to have the local electricity network around his home in North Yorkshire improved in order to cope with the demands of his new private pool.

Flynn said: “On Monday, as households in Scotland were awakening to freezing temperatures, they were met with the news that the electricity grid had been upgraded in order to meet the power demands of the Prime Minister’s new swimming pool.

“So may I ask him, was it while he was taking a leisurely dip that he decided to leave households drowning in their energy bills?”

Sunak, as you might expect, dodged the question.

‘Great British Nuclear’ Scheme

Nuclear power is to be reclassified as “environmentally sustainable” to give it access to the same investment incentives as renewable energy, Hunt also announced on Wednesday.

The Chancellor outlined Westminster’s “nuclear ambitions,” saying he would launch his “Great British Nuclear” scheme.

READ MORE: SNP release membership figures after pressure from candidates

The SNP, of course, didn’t share Hunt’s enthusiasm for nuclear power.

Energy Secretary Michael Matheson said: “The Scottish Government does not support the building of new nuclear fission power stations in Scotland under current technologies.

“Significant growth in renewables, storage, hydrogen and carbon capture provide the best pathway to net zero by 2045, and will deliver the decarbonisation we need to see across industry, heat and transport.”

Scottish Greens MSP Ross Greer added: “There is nothing green about nuclear energy. It is monumentally expensive, cannot be built quickly enough to help tackle the climate crisis and will leave a long and toxic legacy for generations to come.”


  • Elsewhere in nuclear news, Sunak signed off on a new generation of nuclear-powered submarines on his first visit to the US since becoming Prime Minister.
    He called the trilateral Australia, UK and US (Aukus) deal the most significant multilateral defence partnership in generations and praised the “world-leading” British designs.
    The plan will deliver nuclear-powered submarines to Australia as it seeks to counter Chinese activities in the Pacific Ocean.
  • The Scottish Conservatives voted in favour of the UK’s proposed Illegal Migration Bill despite Home Secretary Suella Braverman being unable to confirm whether the legislation is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
    If passed, everyone coming to the UK via a so-called “irregular route” – i.e. crossing the Channel in a small boat – would have their asylum claim dismissed as “inadmissible”.