UK Government needs to replace funding for Highland communities

Scotland’s Finance Secretary, finally, received a response from the UK Government regarding replacement funding, lost due to the UK’s exit from the EU. Tory Minister, Steve Barclay stated that, from now, the UK Government will decide on projects and funding. Confirming that Tories, in London, will bypass the Scottish Government and Scotland’s policy priorities.

Since the EU referendum, we’ve heard repeated promises under Theresa May, then Boris Johnson, that there would be absolutely no powers taken from the Scottish Parliament. Yet, that is happening.
As and where this funding is spent matters – especially here in the Highlands. Before we become members of the EU, it was rare to see significant development in the Highlands.

Professor Katie Louise McCullagh made this very point a few years ago when she highlighted that in 1953 the then-popular, Picture Post magazine had described the Highlands as “Britain’s most severely depressed area”. She explained that while good development agency work was happening, the real improvements came in the 1980s with EU transitional support funding.

The introduction of EU funding changed the development of our region – in small and very big ways. It is easy to take for granted the Kessock Bridge and the thousands of other projects that would not have happened without EU funding and, then, the Scottish Parliament’s re-establishment in 1999.

With funding opportunities and a national Government to set clear priorities for Scottish families, we saw investment in a diverse range of projects including; transport, roads, ferries, culture, biotech, tourism, life sciences, food and drink, financial and bus, services, energy, communities and a lot more.

Many of us haven’t forgotten what happens when Tories at Westminster set the ‘priorities’ for Scotland. There is plenty of precedence’s after all and no better example than in the 90s when Tory Prime Minister, John Major, diverted much-needed cash, destined for the Highlands, to support tory marginal seats in England’s South East.

Does anyone believe that money destined for the Highlands now is safe with Boris Johnson?

Years on from their promises of a fund, we still have no details and no budget – just more empty promises. We can see from the fishing industry betrayal, what tory Brexit promises are worth.

The only way to ensure this funding comes back, fully to the Highlands, with our priorities at the forefront, is through Scotland becoming a member of the European Union as an independent nation.



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