Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf was on his way to London on Monday ahead of his first meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak amid a series of issues at loggerheads between the two countries. File photo by Roberto Perry/EPA-EFE
April 24 (UPI) — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will meet with the new First Minister of Scotland, Humza Yousaf, in London on Monday.
The pair are expected to discuss a string of controversies, including last week’s move to take the government to court over its veto of legislation that would have allowed people in Scotland to change their gender.
Yousaf appealed to Scotland’s highest court for a judicial review of London’s veto of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill on Wednesday as “the only means of protecting our Parliamentary democracy against a Westminster veto”.
Sunak countered that the British government used “very careful and considered advice” on the issue before blocking the legislation.
Yousaf is also expected to take on Sunak over a double-digit rise in duty on Scotch whiskey in last month’s budget, which he declared “unacceptable” and “flagrantly unfair” and in breach of the Conservative government’s election manifesto pledge to review whiskey taxation.
“However, the decision to increase levy by more than 10%, at the same time as withdrawing the energy bill support that the rest of the drinks industry receives, puts the industry – and Scotland – at a competitive disadvantage.” Yousaf said.
“This means less investment and puts jobs here in Scotland at risk. This is simply not acceptable.”
The increase means the tax will be 75%, or $14.18, of the $18.93 average price of a bottle of whiskey. The Scotch whiskey industry employs 42,000 people.
The Scottish Government is also blaming Westminster for the start of a can and bottle deposit refund scheme to reduce littering and increase recycling by March next year. Economy Minister Lorna Slater said the delay was due to London’s failure to grant exemptions to post-Brexit laws governing trade in Britain.
The Sunak-Yousaf summit comes after several unsuccessful months for the SNP, which has fought for independence since its formation in the 20th century. in the mid-1940s, prompted by the surprise resignation of the party’s longest-serving First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in February.
A week after leaving office, Sturgeon’s husband and party leader Peter Murrell was arrested in a raid on the couple’s home in Glasgow and was held in police custody overnight as part of a police investigation into the party’s finances. He was released without charge. This was quickly followed by the arrest and resignation of party treasurer Colin Beattie, who resigned after he was also released under investigation but was not charged.