THE SNP have accused the Conservative government of “shafting” Scotland as it emerged the European Union has awarded Ireland almost €1 billion (£8.5bn) for compensation for Brexit, while Scotland has been given just £172 million from a UK fund set up to succeed a major Brussels scheme.
The party said that ahead of the EU referendum in 2016, leading Brexiteers Boris Johnson and Michael Gove promised that the Scottish Government would be given £1.5bn in funding to spend on Scottish priorities when the UK left the EU.
But with only £172 million of “levelling up'” cash so far awarded, the SNP say it means the UK Government still owes Scotland £1.3 billion, the equivalent of almost £530 per household.
The levelling up awards from the new Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF) were announced in October and went directly to local authorities rather than to the Scottish Government for distribution as the EU funds had done.
Eleven of Scotland’s 32 councils, including Glasgow, Edinburgh and Renfrewshire, benefited.
“The Tory government’s continued short-changing of Scotland through crucial post-Brexit funding is shameful,” said SNP MP Dr Philippa Whitford.
“Previously EU structural funds contributed to projects across all local authorities while now they are forced to compete with each other and two thirds have received no funding at all. The Tories have consistently failed to deliver on their Brexit promises and are now leaving the devolved governments and councils in the dark.
“Tory disdain for devolution is limitless. They are dictating where and how spending is allocated and bypassing our democratically elected Scottish Government which previously set priorities for EU funding on behalf of the people of Scotland.
“It’s just like the 1990s all over again, when there wasn’t a Scottish Parliament, and the Tories at Westminster took money meant for the Highlands and spent it in their own seats.”
She added: “While Scots are being short-changed, the contrast with how Ireland is treated, as an independent member of the EU, could not be more striking. A billion euros will make a massive difference to the Irish economy while Scotland continues to suffer under a disastrous hard Brexit we did not vote for.
“It’s clear beyond any doubt that Westminster is not acting in Scotland’s interest and the only way to properly protect our interests is to become an independent country within the EU.”
The European Commission confirmed on Monday that Ireland will receive a total of €920.4 million in compensation under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve.
It is is the biggest beneficiary of the €5.4bn European fund and will be is the first member state to receive cash.
The Commission said the funding will help Ireland’s economy “in mitigating the impact of Brexit” through economic support, job creation and training.
“Brexit has had a negative impact on many people’s lives. Within the EU, it is the people in Ireland who feel it the most,” cohesion and reform commissioner Elisa Ferreira said.
“The EU’s Brexit Adjustment Reserve stands for solidarity with those most affected. In moving forward, we don’t want to leave anyone behind,” she added.
Ireland will receive €361.5m in 2021, €276.7m in 2022 and €282.2m in 2023. The funding can cover expenses since January 1, 2020.
The Commission will disburse the first instalment of the pre-financing to Ireland by the end of the year.
The Commission expects to adopt Brexit Adjustment Reserve decisions for the other member states in the coming weeks.
Vote Leave campaign’s main leaflet in Scotland said: “Scotland sends more than £1.5 billion, a year to Brussels.
“That’s £30 million every single week – enough to hire nearly 1,400 new nurses, or build a state-of-the art secondary school every week of the year … If we Vote Leave, we can spend our money on our priorities. We can invest in the NHS, build new schools and fix local roads.”
Scotland voted by 62% in the EU referendum to remain but left with the rest of the UK in January 2020.
Northern Ireland, which also backed remaining in the bloc, left too but a deal was negotiated to allow it to remain more closely aligned with the EU single market in order to avoid a hard border with the Irish Republic as agreed under the Good Friday Agreement.
The Scottish Government wants Scotland to rejoin the EU as an independent member state.