AN SNP candidate has claimed that a new a trade border between Scotland and England resulting from independence could “create jobs”, despite the impact on business.
South Scotland MSP Emma Harper, who is challenging a Tory incumbent in Galloway & West Dumfries, was accused of spouting “half-witted nonsense” after the comment.
Speaking to ITV Border, Ms Haprer criticised Boris Johnson for creating a Brexit hard border down the Irish Sea despite previous assurances it wouldn’t happen.
Asked “so why add another one here?”, she replied: “If a border will work, we can show that a border will work, there are issues that have been brought to my attention that show that jobs can be created if a border is created.
“And again, we want the softest of borders.”
Under the SNP’s plans for independence, Scotland would rejoin the EU, meaning the border with England would also be an external EU border, and so trade across it would be tightly regulated.
LSE academics recently suggested it could add 15 to 30 per cent to cross-border trade costs for business.
Tory MSP Oliver Mundell said: “This shows how dangerously out-of-touch the SNP really are – they think a border between Scotland and our biggest trading partner would actually create jobs.
“Their plans for another referendum would wreck our recovery and they’re clueless about how deeply damaging independence would be for Scotland’s economy.
“This half-witted nonsense would be laughable if it wasn’t so irresponsible. A harder border would risk the hundreds of thousands of Scottish jobs that rely on the UK market.”
— Representing Border (@ITVBorderRB) April 22, 2021
Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said: “This is laughable and ludicrous from the SNP.
“The new border between the UK and the EU has already cost Scottish food and drink producers millions. A border between Scotland and England would be much worse given the greater volume of trade that is conducted across it.
“What’s worse is that this nonsense doesn’t come from cranks on the fringes of the independence movement but from someone who has spent the last five years representing the public in parliament.
“Nicola Sturgeon’s economic plans are utterly disconnected from reality.”
Labour Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray said: “The phrase fantasy economics fails to cover this bizarre admission.
“Every credible economist since Adam Smith would warn that erecting a border between two parts of that one market would be a disaster for jobs.
“The SNP simply have no answers to the big questions.“But the SNP have shown in this campaign that they are unwilling to look past their constitutional blind spot and will put jobs and livelihoods at risk in the pandemic.”
Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “This is an absurd comment and shows how little the SNP cares about people’s livelihoods.
“A border with England, which is inevitable under the SNP’s plans for separation, would be catastrophic for trade.
“It would also build barriers between families and friends.
“We should be working to bring communities together so that we have a recovery for everyone, not pulling people apart.”