SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has branded the planned cut to domestic air passenger duty (APD) a “disgrace” and called on Rishi Sunak to scrap it.
Mr Blackford questioned the wisdom of the Chancellor’s move ahead of the crunch Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.
He told the Commons: “Chancellor, this is a disgrace and shows quite frankly that this is not a Government that understands the climate challenge that we all face and the Chancellor should withdraw and remove that proposal.
“Cop26 kicks off this weekend, what on earth are we doing when we’re saying to the rest of the world, that the Prime Minister has spoken today about the importance of 1.5 (degrees)… and the Chancellor wants to cut APD for domestic flights, and I can see him nodding his head, and increase APD admittedly on long-haul flights. But the fact is that C02 emissions per mile are much higher on domestic flights than they are on long-haul flights.
“If he thinks that he’s going to cut air passenger duty for Inverness and the Highlands and islands, then he’s wrong because there is no APD in Inverness and one would have thought if he’s going to make announcements he would have checked his facts before he makes them.”
The Budget, he said, “brazenly cuts taxes for the banks whilst at the same time cuts Universal Credit for the poor”.
On taxation, he said: “Today’s announcement doesn’t even come close to compensating for the tax rises and the cuts that this Chancellor has imposed over the last month.”
Another “hidden truth” of the Budget, Mr Blackford argued, “is that it only promises capital spending tomorrow, but delivers austerity today”.
He said: “The true test of this Budget was whether it would radically act and tackle the cost of living crisis, the Brexit crisis and the climate crisis. It has failed that test on all three fronts and instead of doing whatever it takes, the Chancellor has done as little as possible.
“For the last month his Government have hammered working people and ordinary families with regressive National Insurance tax rises, the premature end of furlough and worst of all a disgraceful £1,000 cut to Universal Credit.”
Mr Blackford said inflation “may well be the defining issue of many budgets to come”, as he cited warnings it could soon hit 5%.
He described Brexit as the “single biggest threat to our recovery”, before adding: “Whilst the European Union is giving Ireland 1.05 billion euros to mitigate the damage of Brexit, Scotland has yet to receive a single penny of compensation from Westminster.
“So, I’d like to ask the Chancellor: where is the same £1 billion package of support for struggling businesses that have been hit by Brexit?”
Mr Blackford accused the Treasury of having “blocked” carbon capture storage in Scotland, asking the Chancellor to put the Scottish Acorn project “back on track”.
In his concluding remarks, Mr Blackford said: “This Budget doesn’t signal recovery, it signals that the Chancellor is dragging us into another winter of discontent.”
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