Salmond says UK should have stood up for Greece

Lack of sol­i­dar­ity with ail­ing coun­try ‘will see us reap a bit­ter harvest’

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - NEWS - Tim Sculthorpe

The Gov­ern­ment should have shown more “sol­i­dar­ity” with Greece and not dis­cour­aged hol­i­day mak­ers from trav­el­ling to the stricken coun­try, Alex Salmond has said.

As bank clo­sures con­tinue in Greece, min­is­ters and of­fi­cial For­eign Of­fice ad­vice have urged trav­ellers to take all the cash they might need to cover their en­tire trip, in­clud­ing for con­tin­gen­cies and emer­gen­cies.

David Cameron and Ge­orge Os­borne have also re­jected sug­ges­tions Bri­tain may have to con­trib­ute hun­dreds of mil­lions of pounds to the latest bailout.

Mr Salmond, the SNP for­eign af­fairs spokesman, said this had un­der­mined the thriv­ing hol­i­day trade be­tween Bri­tain and Greece, warn­ing the UK would “reap a bit­ter harvest” from its fail­ure to sup­port the coun­try.

The as­ser­tion was re­jected by Europe Min­is­ter David Lid­ing­ton dur­ing Com­mons For­eign Of­fice ques­tions.

Speak­ing af­ter Euro group min­is­ters in Brus­sels at­tached harsh con­di­tions to a new bailout for the Greeks, Mr Salmond said: “Shouldn’t the Gov­ern­ment have shown a bit more sol­i­dar­ity?

“For many of us, the at­ti­tude of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, the ECB, cer­tain Euro­pean lead­ers, has been ar­ro­gant, dis­mis­sive and anti-demo­cratic.

“But all this Gov­ern­ment seems to have done is dis­cour­age tourists from go­ing to Greece. Shouldn't you have shown more sol­i­dar­ity in re­cent weeks?”

Mr Lid­ing­ton replied: “I think we have cer­tainly not ad­vised tourists against travel to Greece. I think the les­son that you need to take on board is the Greeks con­sis­tently said they wish to join and re­main within the Euro.

“Join­ing that cur­rency union does mean the sac­ri­fice of a con­sid­er­able amount of na­tional sovereignty.”

Mr Salmond con­tin­ued: “Maybe the les­son you should take is if a lit­tle more un­der­stand­ing had been shown to Greece, maybe they would show more un­der­stand­ing to­wards the UK Gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tion in its rene­go­ti­a­tion.

“You reap what you sow and this Gov­ern­ment will reap a bit­ter harvest.”

Mr Lid­ing­ton said: “When the Chan­cel­lor made his state­ment on Greece last week he made very clear the sym­pa­thy and long stand­ing friend­ship be­tween this coun­try and the peo­ple of of Greece.

“The Prime Min­is­ter made an of­fer of tech­ni­cal sup­port for things like im­prov­ing the ef­fi­cacy of their tax­a­tion sys­tem, that of­fer still re­mains open.”

Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages.

Ger­man fi­nance min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schauble sticks his tongue out at Fin­nish fi­nance min­is­ter Alexan­der Stubb dur­ing the Brus­sels bailout talks.

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