Priti Patel said the Prime Minister should demand the country starts to “pay for itself”. (Instead of paying for itself and a bit of the rest of the UK, I presume she means.)
Patel said Scots get a better deal than the rest of the UK due to policies like free prescriptions and tuition fees. (I wonder why that would be... something about good governance maybe?)
And in a speech organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs – Maggie Thatcher’s favourite think-tank – she said the independence debate provided a “good opportunity” to slash spending. (Well, there, don't say we weren't warned.)
Her outburst will embarrass Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson and undermine the Better Together campaign to keep Scotland in the UK. (It should embarrass her and the right wing of the Tory Party too, so steeped in ignorance as it is. But the BT campaign and Davidson are not easily embarrassed, have no fear.)
Patel said: “There are many areas such as elderly care, tuition fees and prescriptions where Scots are basically getting a better deal than the rest of the country". (She should delve into why England doesn't have these things. They were brought in by either Labour controlled or an SNP government. The right wing governments of England don't care about the elderly or the sick.)
Patel claimed the latest figures showed the public sector in Scotland cost billions. (I don't know where she got the figures from, but as the bulk of the UK civil service is in England, and in London, I am wondering. She might also remember that Thatcher and Major did send some Civil Service jobs to Scotland as compensation for the many thousands that they destroyed in our heavy industry.)
“So there is a good opportunity now for the UK Government to actually start having discussions to make sure that Scotland actually pays for itself.”
(A recent report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies showed public spending per head in Scotland was £1200 higher than the rest of the UK but noted that oil revenues more than make up for this.)
Patel’s comments were last night seized on by the SNP. MSP Jamie Hepburn said: “What unbelievable claptrap from this top Tory. (She's not a top Tory in fairness. She's a backbencher, and not a very bright one, otherwise she'd have made the bottom ranks of minister by now.)
“Once again the mask has slipped and we see the true attitude of the UK Government towards Scotland.
“Scotland more than pays its way – generating 9.6 per cent of UK tax revenue in return for just 9.3 per cent of expenditure.
“But who can doubt that the Tories would cut Scotland’s budget even further if the referendum result was No?”
A Scottish Tory spokesman (unnamed) said: “Priti Patel obviously does not understand that while Scotland benefits from free prescriptions and free personal care, we have 2000 less (SIC) (fewer) nurses – and patients with rare cancers go without life-saving drugs, unlike in England. (WHAT? NO WONDER THEY DIDN'T GIVE THEIR NAME! The Tory spokesman must, or at least should, know perfectly well that there are drugs available in Scotland that are not available in England and vice versa. These low life just can't help slipping in a lie to make their case sound better.)
“Politics is all about choices and she would do well to take this into account when making future speeches about the devolved settlement in Scotland.” (Well at least they got that right. We could note that in France everyone does get whatever drug they need, and cancer patients are treated within days of diagnosis, but in fairness they do pay a great deal more for this service. They also have almost twice as many doctors per head as in the UK, but they pay them very much less...so choices is the name of the game.)
Patel, the MP for Witham, Essex, since 2010, also demanded Cameron target funding for trade unions and foreign aid to cut the deficit.