Sturgeon warned pact to secure Indy vote a disaster for Scotland’s Covid-ravaged economy

Nicola Sturgeon says there’s a ‘choice between two futures’

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The First Minister’s office insisted she would not deviate from her manifesto pledge to freeze rates and bands despite Green plans to hit hundreds of thousands of Scots with savage levies. It came as Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross warned her proposed co-operation deal with Patrick Harvie’s party risked economic doom. At the opening session of First Minister’s Questions of the new parliament, Mr Ross insisted the chief SNP must urgently “reset” her relationship with business leaders, who he said “don’t see anyone around the Scottish Government table who’s fighting their corner”.

He called for more support for firms in Glasgow hit by the decision to keep the city under Level 3 Covid restrictions while the rest of the mainland has moved to Level 2.

Desperate hospitality bosses in the city also took aim at ministers yesterday demanding more notice on curbs ahead of the bank holiday.

Ms Sturgeon is due to provide an update on Friday but bars and restaurants remain concerned over the impact of “last minute” announcements.

In a swipe at Mr Harvie’s MSPs – some of whom were this week snapped breaking coronavirus law in an Edinburgh pub – Mr Ross insisted the “holier-than-thou” Greens were only interested in supporting firms when “flouting Covid rules at high-end bars”.

Mr Ross said: “Instead of business people who understand how to create jobs, it is the Greens who might get a seat around the First Minister’s table.

“A Green Party that doesn’t even believe in economic growth, a Green Party that ignores business – unless they want to celebrate at a high-end bar in George Street – and a Green Party that wants to risk the entire oil and gas industry and the tens of thousands of jobs it supports.

“A nationalist coalition with the Greens is a disaster for anyone who was hoping to see an end to the SNP’s anti-business approach.”

Ms Sturgeon said most people and “responsible businesses” understand the “moral imperative” of supporting the economy in a way that “meets our obligations to the planet and delivers our climate change targets”.

The SNP leader added: “We will continue to make sure we support industry, that we support the economy, but that we also support the country to move to net zero which is a key priority, and should be a key priority for all of us.”

On Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon revealed her minority SNP government had opened talks with the pro-independence allies about a formal working relationship, with the final goal being a “cooperation agreement” between the two parties, which could see Green MSPs serving as ministers.

But Mr Harvie and his co-leader Lorna Slater were forced to apologise after a picture emerged of them, MSP Ross Greer and another man gathered inside Edinburgh’s Browns Bar – breaching the three-household limit.

The Greens have so far refused to comment on whether Mr Harvie, who lives in Level 3 Glasgow, should have been in a hospitality venue in another part of the country.

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Their manifesto included radical plans to increase income tax for wealthier Scots and replace council tax with a levy based on property values that would also raise bills for the better-off.

Other Green policies include a “millionaires tax” on everyone who owns property, land, pensions and other assets that together are valued at more than £1million.

They also want to “phase out North Sea oil and gas production”, and hold a second independence referendum within the next five years.

Asked if the SNP’s promised five year income tax freeze was “on the table” or would be a “red line” in talks with the Greens, the First Minister’s spokesman said: “We are sticking to our manifesto commitment.

“I don’t foresee us deviating from that.”

The spokesman also refused to say if breaking Covid-rules prevented the Greens from joining the government, insisting their controversial bar visit was a matter for them.

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A Green spokesman said: “The Tories are in no place to talk about supporting businesses when Brexit has thrown so many Scottish firms to the wolves.”

Ms Sturgeon is due to provide a lockdown update on Friday but bars and restaurants in Glasgow remain concerned over the impact of “last minute” announcements.

Colin Clydesdale, co-owner of The Ubiquitous Chip, Stravaigin and Hanoi Bike Shop restaurants, said: “We’ve got the bank holiday which will bring income, income is exactly what this industry needs so rather than leaving it to the last minute tell us in advance either way because at the moment we’re trying to second guess the scenario.

“No one’s got a clue.

“If the figures are stacking up and it looks like they’re gonna allow us to open then give us as much notice as humanly possible – 4.45pm on a Friday is not enough.”

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