Nicola Sturgeon slaps down SNP Holyrood candidate over border comment

‘Nobody wants to see a border’: Nicola Sturgeon slaps down SNP Holyrood candidate who claimed putting up the ‘softest of borders’ with England could help to create jobs in an independent Scotland but blames Brexit for prospect of north-south trade checks

  • SNP Holyrood candidate said ‘softest of borders’ could boost jobs in Scotland
  • But Nicola Sturgeon today insisted ‘nobody in the SNP wants to see a border’
  • SNP leader said she wants independent Scotland to trade with UK and the EU 

Nicola Sturgeon today slapped down an SNP Holyrood candidate for claiming that putting up the ‘softest of borders’ with England could help to create jobs in an independent Scotland. 

Emma Harper, an MSP in the last parliament who is standing for the nationalist party in West Dumfries and Galloway, said that ‘we can show that a border will work’.

But Ms Sturgeon has insisted ‘nobody in the SNP wants to see a border between Scotland and England’ as she blamed Brexit for raising the prospect of future trade checks. 

The Scottish Conservatives said the suggestion of a hard border between the two countries ‘would be laughable if it wasn’t so irresponsible’. 

Ms Sturgeon wants to hold a re-run of the 2014 independence referendum and she believes winning a majority at the elections on May 6 would force Boris Johnson to agree to a ballot. 

The SNP leader has said repeatedly that an independent Scotland would seek to rejoin the EU as quickly as possible. 

But that has raised questions over whether trade checks would be required between Scotland and England because goods going from the south to the north would be entering the EU market. 

Nicola Sturgeon today slapped down an SNP Holyrood candidate for claiming that putting up the ‘softest of borders’ with England could help to create jobs in an independent Scotland

Emma Harper, an MSP in the last parliament who is standing for the nationalist party in West Dumfries and Galloway, said that ‘we can show that a border will work’

Ms Sturgeon said today: ‘I have not seen Emma’s comments directly but nobody in the SNP wants to see a border between Scotland and England. 

‘This is only being talked about because the UK government has decided to leave the EU and rip Scotland out of the EU. 

‘I want Scotland to trade freely across the UK and to trade freely within the world’s biggest single market which is the European single market. 

‘It is the Tories that are about borders, it is the SNP, about Scotland being an independent country but then operating economically and socially on the basis of equality.’   

In an interview with ITV Border’s Representing Border programme last night, Ms Harper had said: ‘We’ve already got a hard border in the Irish Sea and that’s something that Boris Johnson told us we were not going to have.’

She was then asked ‘so why add another one here’ and 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.’

The Scottish Conservatives said in a statement: ‘This half-witted nonsense would be laughable if it wasn’t so irresponsible.

‘A hard border would risk the hundreds of thousands of Scottish jobs that rely on the UK market.’ 

An SNP spokesman said: ‘Independence is about getting rid of governments that Scotland doesn’t vote for – not putting up barriers.

‘The Tories are the party that put a border in the Irish Sea, and between Scotland and the European Single Market, which is seven times the size of the UK.

‘It’s not the SNP that is proposing borders – and as an independent member of the EU, unlike now, people would benefit from freedom of movement both with the rest of the UK and the EU.

Boris Johnson, pictured today during a visit to a farm in Stoney Middleton, has repeatedly said he is opposed to holding another referendum on Scottish independence 

‘It is Boris Johnson’s disastrous hard Brexit that will hold back recovery and as Emma Harper said we want trade between Scotland and the rest of the UK to be as seamless as possible.’ 

The Scotland in Union campaign group criticised Ms Harper’s comments as ‘absurd’.

Its chief executive Pamela Nash 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.’

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