Gordon's Cash Grab, Treasury barter with Scots cash

29 March 2005
"This is just another example of Gordon Brown and his Westminster colleagues ignoring the needs of Scotland" - Alex Salmond MP

Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond MP was today joined by SNP MEP Alyn Smith and parliamentary candidate for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey David Thompson to launch a general election campaign to save valuable European funding for Scotland, and particularly the Highlands and Islands, which is being threatened by the UK Treasury.

Speaking at a press conference in Inverness Mr Salmond said:

"Over and over again we see the UK government and Gordon Brown forgetting about Scotland. This time key support for Scotland's communities and the Scottish economy is being deliberately sacrificed so that Blair and Brown can play political games in Europe. Scotland could lose up to £180 million a year and the Highlands alone could lose over £65 million a year.

"Gordon Brown claims the government will compensate Scotland for the loss of funds, but there are no plans for this to happen. Over 4000 projects across Scotland have benefited from this funding, developing everything from roads to community centres, colleges to business parks.

"Gordon Brown's plan is to sacrifice development funding in Scotland in return for cutting the EU budget. While Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac fight about how much money the UK can claim as a rebate, Gordon Brown is willingly giving up money that rightfully belongs in Scotland, and would be spent on Scottish projects."

"The SNP will fight to make Scotland matter in Europe and to ensure the future of European funding for Scotland"

MEP Alyn Smith commented:

"The Treasury is determined to cut the budget and to cut money that could bring huge development potential to parts of Scotland. Gordon Brown claims it is so that funds can be used for new member states but the European Commission, the European Parliament and up to 17 other member states disagree.

"As Europeans the SNP support funding for new member states, particularly as their development will help boost trade for Scottish companies in Eastern Europe, but Scotland does not need to be sacrificed to meet these objectives.

"Gordon Brown and his New Labour friends claim they will provide domestic money to meet regional development challenges, but they won't say how, or what will have to be cut to pay for it. Meanwhile, in Edinburgh McConnell, McCabe and Jim Wallace know what London are planning and do nothing to stop it."

Dave Thompson, parliamentary candidate for Inverness commented:

"Inverness and the Highlands have benefited significantly from European funds over the years. The new medicentre at Raigmore hospital, the access road to Inverness airport and the upgrade of the Achnasheen to Kinlochewe road are just some of the projects that have received funding in this area."

"European funding has enabled the Highlands to increase levels of economic development and to compete with other regions. After losing Objective 1 status because of a statistical error in London we are not prepared to see the funds that are still available willingly given up by a Scottish UK Chancellor."