Scottish National Party hits out at suggestions by Michael Gove that Barnett formula could be axed

 
James Nickerson
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Michael Gove Outlines His Bid For The Conservative Party Leadership
Gove is making a bid to replace Prime Minister David Cameron (Source: Getty)

Former mayor of London Boris Johnson may have been joined by the Scottish National Party in anger with Michael Gove's decision to run for leader of the Conservatives after he hinted at axing the Barnett formula.

The justice secretary today made suggestions that he could scrap the Barnett formula, the system that works out Scotland's budget, outraging the SNP.

Speaking at the launch of his campaign for Tory leader, Gove said: “I think we need to explore how we can develop a fairly-funded, flexible and robust Union for our new circumstances.”

Read more: Gove boasts he is the candidate "for change" as he dismisses Johnson as incapable of uniting party

SNP MSP Michael Russell, who is convener of the Scottish Parliament’s finance committee, said: “People across Scotland – in every single part of our country – voted to remain in the EU and we are determined to make sure that clear democratic expression is recognised.

“It’s absolutely outrageous that a prospective Prime Minister is now using a Leave vote to imply that Scotland’s budget could be slashed – just months after the Tories agreed a new financial settlement for Scotland."

Scotland's fiscal framework was agreed earlier in February. Negotiations over the fiscal framework had been ongoing since March 2015, with both governments having been in deadlock over how to resolve Scotland's block grant.

Read more: Blair says Labour is "effectively disabled" while warning against a Brexiteer leading EU negotiations

“We know that elements of the Tory party have for years longed for the opportunity to hammer Scotland’s budget and it’s no surprise that they’d hope to use the fallout from the referendum to do this. But the leadership candidates must respect the fiscal framework that they just signed up to and clearly rule out any cuts to Scotland’s budget," Russell added.

"It’s time for Ruth Davidson to finally stand up for Scotland – and condemn these undemocratic factions within her own party looking for any excuse to hammer Scotland.”

The moves will add tension to an already delicate situation, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon having travelled to Brussels this week to convene talks on how to keep Scotland in the EU.

Her initial optimism was, however, shot down by French President Francois Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who said negotiations would be conducted with the UK, not parts of the UK.

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