Scottish National Party offers to take North East workers

The Scottish National Party claims independence would be better for the North East than control from London

A general view of Edinburgh in Scotland
A general view of Edinburgh in Scotland

The Scottish National Party has told the North East an independent Scotland would welcome its workers with open arms.

The SNP said the region should see independence as offering an alternative to London’s dominance over the North East, a claim few of the region’s MPs appeared to agree with.

Instead, there were warnings yesterday of border chaos and towns reduced to “currency exchange kiosks” if a yes vote is returned in this year’s referendum.

Durham MP Phil Wilson led MPs yesterday in a parliamentary debate on the impact of independence on the region’s economy.

Citing a Journal report from last year in which First Minister Alex Salmond told the North East it had no better friend than Scotland, the Sedgefield MP questioned the reality of that relationship.

He said: “To the SNP’s internal Scottish audience, the English are those from whom the SNP wants independence, but to the North East of England, according to Alex Salmond, we are Scotland’s closest friends.

“Call me old-fashioned, but I would not close the door on my closest friends by asking for independence from the rest of the UK.”

SNP MP Angus MacNeil denied the possibility that a new border would hinder trade.

He told MPs: “The point of the SNP is to put the Scottish people first, rather than power struggles in London, which, unfortunately, is the point of the London parties.

“It is all about who is in government in London, and that is not for the good of the people of Sighthill, Skye or Lewis.

“That is an awful tragedy. It should also be in our interest in Scotland to ensure that the good people of the North East of England are benefiting as much as those in the regions of Scotland.

“I look forward to the day I witness people from the North East of England finding chances of employment in Scotland, rather than having to go far afield to the South East of England.”

Berwick Liberal Democrat Sir Alan Beith said the fact was that day-to-day trade would be changed if Scotland broke away from the United Kingdom.

He said: “That activity is not impossible with independence, we should not overstate the case, but it would become more difficult and the likelihood of administrative barriers being erected is that much greater.

“There are a whole series of reasons why anyone living near the border, unless they see their future entirely as a town of currency exchange kiosks and smugglers, would think that we are much better together.”

Also warning against a yes vote was Hexham Conservative Guy Opperman. He told MPs: “The boundary between Scotland and the rest of the UK would, by definition, become an international border between two separate states, with everything that entails.

“The evidence locally in the North East, whether from farming bodies or the North East chamber of commerce, is extensive.

“There is huge concern that this will have an impact on trade, businesses and jobs.

“I met a number of oil and gas producers, several of whom are building huge sites on the Tyne at the moment. The two biggest construction sites are for construction projects in the North Sea.

“The producers are concerned that, if there were independence, those projects would be affected, and there would be greater difficulties.”

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