Tensions within the SNP Green coalition nearly cost Scotland thousands of jobs and a Brexit boost worth billions according to government critics.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Scotland this week to announce that two new “green freeports” have been given the green light to be established north of the Border despite being held up for months by the Scottish Green party.
An economic analysis of the predicted impact that eight upcoming freeports that have been announced in England shows just how crucial an investment this would be for Scotland and how near we came to missing out.
Limited tax and business-friendly policies are expected to provide each region with a significant jobs boost of roughly 7,000 to 52,000, while also injecting up to £8.4billion into the local economy.
Freeports planned in England
- East Midlands Airport – Up to around 56,000 jobs, and a cash injection of around £8.4bn
- Felixstowe & Harwich – Up to 13,500 new jobs.
- Humber – Over 7,000 jobs
- Liverpool – Possible annual increase of £850m to the Merseyside economy and 12,000 jobs
- Plymouth and South Devon – Roughly 9,000 jobs needing to be filled in the first decade
- Solent – A cash injection of up to £3.6bn and around 52,000 jobs
- Teesside- Over 18,000 new jobs and a £3.2bn boost for the local economy over 5 years
- Thames – £4.5bn investment and 21,000 new jobs
In response to questioning, Murdo Fraser, Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery, is reported to have said, “The Scottish Greens’ response to this fantastic announcement exposes their growing rift with the SNP and proves once and for all that they cannot be trusted to act in Scotland’s best interests.
“Two new freeports in Scotland will offer an amazing opportunity to drive investment and boost our economic recovery. So it is disappointing – but not surprising – that the anti-growth Greens have already come out to attack the project.
“After months of delays and grievance from the SNP-Green Government, it is welcome that the SNP has finally decided to work with the UK Government to deliver these freeports.
“However, the extremist influence of the Scottish Greens in Cabinet almost saw Scotland missing out on this golden opportunity altogether.
“The Greens might not have got their way on this one, but their outsize influence in Scottish Government is deeply worrying to anyone who supports Scotland’s growth and prosperity.”
Affronted Greens are calling Freeports a ‘Thatcherite gimmick’
The feud is demonstrative of the growing rift between Greens and the SNP – particularly Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, who some colleagues view as “too right-wing”.
It is believed that it was opposition from the Greens that forced Nicola Sturgeon to pull support for the Cambo oilfield, which was a huge loss for the Scottish economy. The project remains on ice.
While specific locations for the two Scottish freeports remain undecided, both are anticipated to deliver similar economic uplift to the area as those that are south of the Border.
The major commercial ports in Scotland are at Grangemouth, Leith and Rosyth on the Forth, Ayr, Dundee and Aberdeen.
Ross Greer, finance spokesperson for the Green party labelled the plan a “Thatcherite gimmick”, stating to BBC Radio Scotland that the Greens want “nothing to do with them”.