The SNP deputy leader accused London of repeatedly trying to undermine the powers Scotland secured through devolution and to exert influence over Scottish-only decisions. John Swinney launched an appeal to supporters of increased independence for the nation to “stand up” against “Westminster control freaks” threatening to take over. Addressing SNP party members at this week’s virtual conference, Mr Swinney said: “The direction of travel was clear – more decisions being taken in Scotland led to better decisions being taken for Scotland.
“And despite the boast from Labour that devolution would kill nationalism stone dead, it has, in fact, proven conclusively that the people of Scotland are more than capable of governing ourselves.
“So it’s no wonder the Westminster control freaks are so determined to undermine it.
“In public, the Tories say they are committed to making devolution work but behind the scenes, they are plotting to make it unworkable.”
He continued: “Boris Johnson is not going to stand up and announce to the cheering Tory faithful that he is dismantling the devolution settlement, much as I’m sure he would like to.
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“But make no mistake, piece by piece devolution is quietly being filleted, hollowed out from the inside by a Tory party which has always opposed the idea of anything other than unfettered Westminster control on Scotland.
“Much like the climate emergency, which is slowly creeping up on us every single day, we need to issue a code red for devolution.
“All of us who care so deeply about the Scottish Parliament and its role in public life need to stand up and be counted before it is too late.”
Mr Swinney claimed “the only way to keep the gains of devolution is by becoming independent” while suggesting Mr Johnson’s party had “lost all moral authority to hold the highest offices in the land”.
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Referencing the Owen Paterson case where the Prime Minister attempted to block his suspension for breaking rules on paid lobbying, the SNP deputy leader said: “The Tories have rewritten the definitions of cronyism and corruption.
“And when they are caught bang to rights by an independent investigation, they just rewrite the rule-book as well.”
He added: “In a grotesque irony, the Tories are using something that the people of Scotland voted overwhelmingly against – Brexit – to undermine something they voted overwhelmingly for – the Scottish Parliament.
“Through the Internal Market Act, the Tories have given themselves unfettered power to decide the rules of the internal market – and to completely ignore the devolution settlement if they want to.”
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SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford also renewed calls for a new independence referendum despite Boris Johnson repeatedly saying he would not sign off on a new vote.
Mr Blackford said: “Independence is now the pathway to safety and stability – it offers an escape from the constant crisis of Westminster control.
“Built on the solid foundations of our own democratic decisions, independence offers the opportunity to build the post-pandemic future we all wish to see.
“The chance to build a new Scotland that finally takes its natural place amongst the nations of the world.”