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Monday, July 4, 2022

Alister Jack defends saying ‘suck it up’ to ‘grumbling’ Deidre Brock

THE Scottish Secretary has insisted SNP MP Deirdre Brock was “grumbling” when she raised concerns about Westminster bypassing the devolution settlement around Levelling Up Funding.

Earlier this week Alister Jack told Edinburgh North and Leith MP Brock to “suck it up and go with the programme” when she raised fears about the funding of projects in her constituency which bypassed conversations with the Scottish Government.

Brock was told that the redevelopment of Granton Waterfront went through Edinburgh City Council but said Westminster should be dealing with the Scottish Government as well.

Jack said in response at the time: “We took the decision right at the beginning to practice real devolution and we’re standing by it so you ought to suck it up and go with the programme.”

When The National spoke to Jack at the Royal Highland Show on Thursday, he said he “actually” told her to “get with the programme”. When it was pointed out he also told her to “suck it up”, he replied “yes I did, of course”. 

He then went on to say Brock – who told Jack his language was “not very ministerial” – was “grumbling” about the matter and “missing the point”.

He said: “Deirdre was discussing a project of investment, I think, of £16million into a regeneration project in Granton in her constituency, and I have been discussing further money with them from the Levelling Up Fund, and I told her that.

“But her gripe seemed to be that the UK Government had given the local authority in Edinburgh the money directly to put into the Granton regeneration project, and not given it to the Scottish Government first.

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“As I say, we were very clear in 2019 that structural funding would be given directly to local authorities, practising real devolution in Scotland because they can get to the local projects that needed it most.

“I’ve been very clear about that all the way through and that’s why when she was grumbling about this money not being detoured through the Scottish Government to get to her constituency, I think she’s slightly missing the point. I’m more interested in the regeneration of Granton.”

Under the devolution settlement, Scotland receives a block grant every year and Holyrood ministers subsequently decide how to spend it on devolved matters.

Brock asked earlier this week who was responsible for the Levelling Up Fund which aims to invest in infrastructure across the UK.

She asked about the number of staff working on the project in Queen Elizabeth House in Edinburgh compared to people working in London.



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