Indyref2: Ballantyne says there’s ‘huge gap’ in arguments
The leader of Reform UK Scotland believes the SNP’s high levels of spending north of the border has left the country more dependent on the UK than ever – a fact she believes Scots will recognise if it should come the crunch. With the Holyrood elections taking place on Thursday, First Minister Mrs Sturgeon is targeting the overall majority she believes will bolster her case for a second referendum on the subject.
But Mrs Ballantyne said Mrs Sturgeon’s party was purposely avoiding any discussion of the pitfalls of breaking away.
She told Express.co.uk: “If you are running a business and you want to sell it, you prepare it for sale.
“You ensure that it’s robust, that you’ve really gone through all your assets, you strengthen your balance sheet etc.
“But they haven’t done that – in fact they’ve done exactly the opposite. They have spent, and spent and spent and they have destabilised the balance sheet of Scotland.
“They have made us as poorer as an asset, stripped of its potential wealth.”
Nicola Sturgeon has left Scotland unprepared for independence, said Mrs Ballantyne
Michelle Ballantyne, the leader of Reform UK Scotland
They have spent, and spent and spent and they have destabilised the balance sheet of Scotland
Throughout their time in office, the SNP had not built a “unique selling point” for Scotland to make it viable as an independent country, Mrs Ballantyne said.
She added: “So rather than prepare us for separation they’ve made us more dependent on the union than ever, and that doesn’t make sense.
“And I think this is where the SNP fall apart. You’ve got a lot of people shouting for something, but they haven’t got the intelligence and understanding of how to run a business, how to run a country, so they haven’t prepared for the very thing that they want the most.
“If you wanted the people to vote for separation, you would build Scotland that had minimised its deficit, maximised trading opportunities, and reduced the welfare dependencies, and you will be sitting in a position where you qualified with all the criteria in place, you would have made sure that you have answers to all the key questions.”
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Nicola Sturgeon tries out a scooter while campaigning at the weekend
Asked whether she feared Scotland was sleepwalking towards a disaster, Mrs Ballantyne told Express.co.uk: “There’s always a danger, absolutely.
“But I think what you’ve got is a kind of a blur, in the midst of COVID and on top of Brexit, I guess.
“The whole COVID portrayal is that somehow Nicola Sturgeon was a sort of COVID Saint, and was doing everything wonderfully and keeping everybody safe.
“And I think that’s given a very misleading reaction when the polls have been asking, do you feel Scotland would have been better going it alone on this, it’s been easy to say yes.”
Despite all this, Mrs Ballantyne felt the result of a so-called IndyRef2 would be the same as it was seven years ago.
Nicola Sturgeon delivers a coronavirus briefing in March
Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh in 2019
She added: “I think when it actually comes to it when they’re actually faced with a proposition, ie what do you want to do, I don’t think the vote has shifted. If anything I think it’s more likely to have gone up in favour of saying no.
“When you get right down to it, if you were saying to them well there’s no problem with the currency, all your assets will be secure, you’ll still have your job and we’re going to join the EU then yes I would say there is a huge danger.
“But none of those things are the case.”
She explained: “Reality bites the week before the vote when they look at the dawning reality of what’s too good to be true.
“I know people who would love to have Scotland, that would be their dream, but they’re not going to vote for it because much as they would love it, they actually don’t want the consequences of that decision in their lifetime, or they’re not prepared to live through the consequences to get to the other side.
Independence has been tipped to prove costly for Scotland
“If you went for a much more right-wing government, with a very low tax base, a very small welfare state, etc. As I said you could end up in a great place, but that’s not where they sit, politically.”
Despite all this, Mrs Ballantyne disagreed with those who have suggested UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson should call the SNP’s bluff by agreeing to a referendum in the hope of putting the matter to bed once and for all.
She said: “I understand that argument and a lot of people make it.
“But there’s another side to it as well because referendums aren’t straightforward.
“Maybe if you could call it and say right we’ll have it next week, but it’s not like that.
Nicola Sturgeon factfile
“The campaign would be really angry and divisive, just as it was in 2014.
“I mean I’m looking at it from the winning side of every referendum.
“But do you really think if we have a referendum this will go away?
“It won’t solve the problem – it just becomes two out three, or three out of five.”
Express.co.uk has approach the SNP for comment.