Philip Hammond to discuss Brexit with Nicola Sturgeon


Philip Hammond to discuss Brexit with Nicola Sturgeon

The UK Chancellor is to discuss the “challenges and opportunities” of leaving the EU with Scotland”s first minister.

Philip Hammond will meet Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh later as he makes his first visit to Scotland since last week”s Autumn Statement.

It also follows the formal devolution of new income tax powers to the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Hammond will also host a business round table in Edinburgh.

The event will include representatives of the oil and gas industry, as well as financial services firms.

The Chancellor said measures outlined in the Autumn Statement would add £800m to Scotland”s capital budget over the period until 2020-21.

“Spending squeeze”

He said this would allow the Scottish government to “invest significantly in infrastructure”.

But analysis by the IPPR Scotland think tank said the Autumn Statement would create a “very significant and unprecedented spending squeeze” for many public services in Scotland.

Speaking ahead of the visit to Edinburgh, Mr Hammond said: “Scotland”s contribution to the UK is invaluable and we have delivered on the Scottish government”s call for increased capital funding and investment through our Autumn Statement.

“The rest of the UK is also Scotland”s most important market, providing four times the trade volume than that of the EU 27 – so it is imperative that we work together to achieve the best for everyone in the United Kingdom.

“The Scottish government now has responsibility for significant areas of policy as a result of further devolution and I look forward to meeting with the first minister of Scotland to ensure we seize the opportunities we face together in the future.?”

Mr Hammond will also meet Scotland”s finance secretary, Derek Mackay, during his time in Edinburgh.

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Derek Mackay said the Autumn statement would mean an economic squeeze for families

Mr Mackay hit out at the UK government”s economic policies on Wednesday, telling Holyrood that “instead of supporting households in the face of a deteriorating economic outlook” they were “exacerbating the situation”.

He said: “Hard-working families should not have to pick up the tab of the UK government”s austerity policies or their decision to leave the EU.

“Scotland did not vote for Brexit yet this renewed economic squeeze is going to hit families here, many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet.”

Mr Mackay also indicated that the Scottish government could make further changes to the tax system than the ones set out in the party”s election manifesto.

He added: “I know the first minister and I have said before we will continue to look at our tax position and look at the transfer of powers coming to Scotland to make sure we get the balance right to try to support low-income households.”

The Scottish government is currently examining ways of keeping Scotland in the European single market even if the UK as a whole leaves, with its proposals due to be published before the end of the year.

But Ms Sturgeon has said the possibility of a second referendum of independence remains “on the table” if she feels it is the best way of protecting Scotland”s interests.