‘The best you can do?’ Andrew Neil silences Scottish nationalist with brutal take-down

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Boris Johnson has repeatedly slapped down requests from the SNP and their leader Nicola Sturgeon to grant Holyrood the power to hold another independence referendum, with the Prime Minister insisting the result of the first vote from 2016 must be honoured. But last month during the party’s annual conference, Scotland’s First Minister ramped up her campaign for another referendum on independence. She revealed plans to push ahead with a second vote as early as next year, provided the SNP can secure a majority during the Scottish elections in May.

Mr Neil is a vocal opponent of Scottish independence and has gone head-to-head with another nationalist on Twitter, destroying his argument in a long-running battle lasting nearly 24-hours.

The veteran broadcaster wrote: “Key quotes from businessman letter to Herald – ‘I have never encountered anti-Scottish resentment south of the Border (indeed the number of Scots in top positions in my industry rather suggests the opposite).

“What I have rather encountered is a quite genuine sense of bewilderment at an endless enunciation of grievance and inferiority.

“This isn’t Anglophobia, it is something more.

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“The SNP wants to control our own future and decide what sort of country we choose to live in.

Mr Neil added in response: “Quite right. That’s why we have a Scottish Parliament in charge of the vast bulk of the internal affairs of Scotland, capable of producing a radically different agenda if it should so choose.

“That after 13 years in power the SNP is incapable of substantial deviation from UK perspective suggests not thraldom of Westminster but intellectual poverty/bankruptcy of movement with no ideas, only slogans. If you feel aggrieved, it is with Holyrood the beef should lie.”

But one Scottish nationalist hit back, accusing Mr Neil of repeating “such easily disprovable misinformation about Scotland”.

They tweeted: “The majority of tax & social security powers remain reserved to Westminster.

“Schedule 5 of Scotland Act lists 100s of other reserved examples.

“Why does Mr Neil feel the need to repeat such easily disprovable misinformation about Scotland?”

The veteran broadcaster replied: “What is it you want to do with schools, hospitals, housing, transport that you can’t do now?”

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The Scottish nationalist responded with four points, which read: 1. Protect from Tory cuts (we’re dependent on Barnett); 2. Protect from stealth privatisation in Tory trade deals; 3. Social security cuts with harm across public services, particularly schools; 4. Railway services are reserved by Schedule 5 Section E2.”

Mr Neil hit back with four answers of his own, insisting: “1. You get massively more public spending than UK average. Hugely more than your total revenues; 2. Scare nonsense. Give me one example; 3. You could already counter that if so minded; 4. You still have huge powers over railways.”

The Scottish nationalist then attempted to challenge those answers, and tweeted: “1. @ScotGov budget £42bn Scotland tax revenue £66bn; 2. Tories 2012 Health Act = NHS privatisation; 3. £100ms spent on Scots Welfare mitigation fund. We shouldn’t have to mitigate Rape Clause & Bedroom Tax; 4. Nope. Read Scotland Act Schedule 5, Andrew. It’s long.”

But in one final and brutal take-down, Mr Neil responded: “This is getting tedious. Really best you can do?”

He then added another four points of his own, which read: “1. Now add in all spending that does not flow thru ScotGov. Total far more than £66bn. UK makes up gap; 2. 2012 act didn’t apply to Scotland. What was privatised?; 3. Don’t you have extra welfare powers now?; 4. You run ScotRail.”

Last month, First Minister Ms Sturgeon told supporters at the SNP conference “independence is in clear sight” and boldly declared Scotland is “now a nation on the cusp of making history”.

She said: “Since our last conference, we have won a landslide victory in a UK general election. And support for independence has risen.

“It has become the sustained and majority view in public opinion this year.

“While our primary focus is on tackling and beating COVID-19 – for which we have renewed hope – Scotland must be ready for what comes next. And I know we will be.

“The question for all of us as we look ahead to the election next May is this: who should be taking the decisions that shape our futures?”

The First Minister continued: “Let us demonstrate – with cool heads and patient persuasion – that Scotland is ready to take its place in the global family of independent nations.

“Scotland is now a nation on the cusp of making history.

“Independence is in clear sight – and if we show unity of purpose, humility and hard work, I have never been so certain that we will deliver it.”

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