Ruth Davidson: UK is too 'London-centric'


Ruth DavidsonImage copyright
Reuters

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Ruth Davidson is due to address the Conservative Party conference in Manchester later

Ruth Davidson is to demand Scotland benefits more from being part of the Union with a plea for more government jobs to be relocated north.

The Scottish Conservative leader will say the UK “continues to be far too London-centric” with “enough civil servants to fill Wembley Stadium”.

Ms Davidson will criticise the “crazy” imbalance in a speech to the Conservative Party conference.

She is due to address delegates in Manchester later.

While stressing the need to “absolutely press on with more devolution”, the Scottish Tory leader will also say that it is “time for a bit more Union too”.

While the Tories lost seats south of the border in June’s snap general election, the party in Scotland had its best result for decades, winning 13 seats including those of former first minister Alex Salmond and SNP depute leader Angus Robertson.

The Scottish Conservatives are also the second largest party in Holyrood.

Some commentators have attributed the party’s success in part to Ms Davidson’s opposition to a second Scottish independence referendum.

In her speech later she will call for Scotland to get more out of being part of the UK.

Three-bed semi

Ms Davidson will say: “It’s wonderful that our small island nation plays host to the capital of the world.

“But the truth is for all the devolution of power in the last 20 years, our Union continues to be far too London-centric.”

She will tell the conference: “We live in a country where the property values of London’s top 10 boroughs are worth more than all of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales combined.

“Where you can sell up a three-bed semi in Ilford, and buy half of Sutherland.

“Where, in a capital city already zooming forward on the jet fuel of high finance, the economy is further boosted by enough civil servants to fill Wembley stadium.”

Ms Davidson will also argue that the civil service and cultural bodies must “represent and be present” across the whole of the UK.

‘Utterly failed’

“The government is reviewing the various agencies based in London to see which ones could be ready for a move,” Ms Davidson will say.

“So I want us to seize the opportunity to ensure more of them come to Scotland.”

The SNP’s Westminster Leader Ian Blackford, said Ms Davidson’s expected comments were “nothing more than a diversion” in an attempt to take the focus away from the “complete failure” of the Conservatives to deliver for anywhere outside south-east England.

“She wants Scotland to have civil service offices, but to not have the powers to shape the services that they deliver,” he said.

“If you look at the Tory record even when they have tried to rebalance the UK economy – through the Northern Powerhouse for example – they have utterly failed to spread economic growth more evenly and London and the south-east continue to drain the lifeblood from the rest of UK’s economy.”



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