STEPHEN Flynn has said Westminster wants to "tax Scotland's industry to fund tax cuts in England" following the recent Spring Budget announcement.

The SNP Westminster leader appeared on Talking Scotland – The National's podcast in collaboration with the Aberdeen Independence Movement – on Tuesday to discuss Scotland's energy sector and a just transition from fossil fuels towards renewable energy.

“The Conservatives are seeking to bankroll broken Brexit Britain on the back of Scotland’s oil and gas,” Flynn (below) said in response to the extension of the windfall tax on oil and gas.

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He added: “They want to tax Scotland’s industry to fund tax cuts in England."

In the Spring Budget, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a 2p cut in National Insurance, whilst extending and increasing the windfall tax on oil and gas.

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Hunt announced in the Commons that the cut in National Insurance would be funded by additional taxes on vapes and tobacco, as well as the extension of the windfall tax on the oil and gas industry until 2029.

Reports have suggested 100,000 jobs could be wiped out if the windfall tax is hiked up any higher – Chancellor Jeremy Hunt kept it at the same level but extended the timeline by a year – but we reported that this would equate to the entire collapse of the industry.

At the time, the Scottish Government described the Budget as a "betrayal" of public services. 

Finance Secretary Shona Robison (below) said: "Public services up and down the UK are in real need of investment, and they’re being sacrificed to deliver unsustainable tax cuts.”

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Flynn said the move showed that Westminster was "certainly not working for people in the north east of Scotland", who would be impacted most by the Chancellor's decision.

'The energy sector is Scotland's future'

Looking forward to the future of the energy sector, Flynn emphasised the need for a just transition, but one that worked for oil and gas workers in the north east.

“Those of us in Aberdeen, we live it and we understand it because our communities, primarily the wealth that exists in them has derived from the jobs available in the north sea," he said.

“There needs to be a transition both economically and to deal with the challenges of climate change. But it has to be a just transition.

“We have a home-grown indigenous workforce that we have to protect, and the only people who will facilitate a net zero transition are the people currently in the jobs.”

Flynn added that Scotland “is so well-placed in the race to net zero” and that “the energy sector is Scotland’s future”, but that it was being let down by Westminster.

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He pointed towards Scotland’s offshore wind potential, adding that many workers currently in the fossil fuel industry were “transient” and would adapt to work on renewables as Scotland seeks to reach net zero.

The renewables industry could generate millions for Scotland, as a new report revealed Scotland's communities could benefit by £170 million per year if Holyrood acts now.

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This is because Scotland is much more energy-rich than the rest of the UK due to its geographical location and the increased frequency of wet and windy weather.

"We have more [energy] than we could possibly use if we are prepared to exploit it," energy expert Professor Gareth Harrison previously told The National.

​Earlier this year, we told that Scotland’s green sector has delivered more electricity than Scotland used for the first time.

'Austerity on stilts'

Flynn, the SNP MP for Aberdeen South, said the 2p cut to National Insurance would mean that “the losers are the public”, as budgets for infrastructure such as the NHS and schools would be tightened.

“That is austerity on stilts, not just austerity 2.0,” he said.

When asked what the SNP would have done with the Spring Budget, Flynn said the party would have announced investment in both public infrastructure and in green technology.

“If you want to create growth in the economy, if you want to create the jobs of tomorrow and replace the jobs of today, then you need to invest,” he said.

“We all want that independent Scotland where decisions aren’t made in Westminster, but while we are there we will defend the jobs we have now, and speak loudly and proudly about jobs [for] the future.”

You can watch the Talking Scotland episode below or on Youtube.