Rishi Sunak backs probe into Scottish Government’s independence spending

Prime minister says 'it's right' for cabinet secretary to look into the role of officials supporting independence minister as new guidance expected within weeks
Source: Alamy

By Ruaraidh Gilmour

01 Aug 2023

Rishi Sunak has backed the ongoing probe into the Scottish Government’s independence spending. 

The prime minister was asked during a visit to Aberdeenshire about the investigation by cabinet secretary Simon Case. 

Case has said the civil servants in Scotland will be issued new guidance “within weeks”. This follows concerns over officials supporting the work of Scottish independence minister Jamie Hepburn. 

Last week, as part of the Scottish Government’s Building a New Scotland series, first minister Humza Yousaf launched the fifth paper on independence which focused on citizenship.  

Asked during his visit if he was concerned about the Scottish Government’s spending on the series, Sunak said: "What’s right is that, as the head of the civil service, it’s Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, who conducts a review of that particular situation and I think it’s right that we let that continue."

Sunak said his government is "focused on delivering for the people of Scotland”, adding that Scots don’t want to see “more constitutional wrangling”. 

He said: "It's about bringing down inflation, easing the burden on the cost of living. It's about the economy, growing, creating jobs, as today's announcement illustrates. It's about cutting waiting lists, as we have got strong action to do in England and that's what I think people would want to see in Scotland as well. 

"Those are the issues that are concerning people at the moment, not constitutional wrangling, that's what I'm focused on delivering as prime minister. 

"I've always said I'm always happy to work constructively with the Scottish Government to deliver for people in Scotland. You saw that, I think when I was last here, we announced the creation of two free ports, which are a great example of doing something together which is good for Scotland, good for Scottish people – their jobs, opportunities and the economy."

Scottish secretary Alister Jack, who accompanied Sunak on his visit to Aberdeenshire, shared his view. 

Jack said: "I think taxpayer money should be spent on public services in Scotland, that’s where the focus should be. 

"We’re very clear about that and Simon Case has said he’s looking into it, and he’s looking into it, but it is important that that doesn’t have any political interference."

The spokesperson for the first minister said: "The Scottish Government was elected with a clear mandate to provide the people of Scotland with the information they need to make an informed choice about their future."

Ruaraidh Gilmour writes for Civil Service World’s sister title Holyrood, where a version of this story first appeared

Read the most recent articles written by Ruaraidh Gilmour - Cab sec weighing up civil servants' role in Scottish independence referendum

Share this page
Partner content