Covid recovery not Scottish independence must be the focus of the next Scottish Parliament – Miles Briggs MSP

This year has been an incredibly challenging year for many people, with the threat of Covid-19, not being able to see loved ones because of lockdown restrictions, and economic uncertainty for businesses, as well as job insecurity.

The Scottish Parliament to be elected in May should make recovery from the Covid crisis its main priority, says Miles Briggs (Picture: Andy Buchanan/pool/AFP via Getty Images)
The Scottish Parliament to be elected in May should make recovery from the Covid crisis its main priority, says Miles Briggs (Picture: Andy Buchanan/pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Christmas, the relaxing of lockdown restrictions between December 23 and 27, and being allowed to safely see family and friends is something I know we are all in need of and looking forward to.

I would encourage people to be extra careful, especially if they are seeing someone over Christmas who is in a higher Covid risk category. People in Edinburgh and the Lothians have made such a tremendous effort to keep rates low and it’s important we keep up the momentum.

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The announcement of the first vaccine was a gamechanger for ending the Covid-19 public health emergency, but the economic impact from various levels of lockdown since March will take years to recover from.

Huge amounts of funding from the UK government to Scotland has protected jobs and prevented businesses from going under, but this has meant significant levels of borrowing. The level of borrowing and Covid-19 support for employers and employees in Scotland has once again shown the benefits for Scotland of being part of the wider UK.

The next Scottish Parliament will be incredibly important for protecting jobs and driving our economic recovery. It is more important than ever for Scotland to come together and focus on building the economy, creating jobs, educating our young people and reducing NHS waiting times for treatments.

These are the priorities people really care about and which all parties in the Scottish Parliament should focus energy on delivering.

For too long SNP ministers’ preoccupation with independence has seriously distracted them from the day job of running the Scottish government, from the scandals surrounding new-build hospital projects like Edinburgh’s Sick Kids to the ferry-building scandal with a committee of MSPs this week criticising the “catastrophic failure” of SNP ministers to handle the project.

Another referendum on independence is the last thing Scotland needs right now.

If we are truly going to build back better in the years ahead and make sure we can build a healthier, happier, and more prosperous Scotland post-Covid, then everyone will need to put their shoulder to the wheel.

We need to focus 100 per cent on the recovery from the pandemic and that is why the Scottish Conservatives will focus on our positive agenda to power up Scotland’s economy, invest in local infrastructure, restore Scotland’s reputation and work in partnership across the UK to make all our lives better.

This public health emergency has reminded us of what matters most: the sense of community, of coming together, of sticking together and getting through tough times together.

This Hogmanay, there will be even more reason to toast the end of 2020 and look forward to 2021 with hope that the successful rollout of the Covid vaccines will bring an end to social distancing and lockdown restrictions and present a safe pathway for us all to get back to normal.

So let’s unite to make 2021 the year we bring Scotland together and do what is best for people's jobs, businesses and families. Let’s face the challenges and opportunities of the future together.

Miles Briggs is a Scottish Conservative MSP for Lothian

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