£5m a year so SNP can strut on world stage

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Gareth Rose SCOT­TISH PO­LIT­I­CAL EDI­TOR

TAX­PAY­ERS are spend­ing nearly £5mil­lion a year so the SNP can ‘grand­stand on the world stage’, fig­ures show.

The Scot­tish Govern­ment has cre­ated a net­work of 38 of­fices around the world – de­spite for­eign af­fairs be­ing re­served to West­min­ster.

Al­most half are in Brus­sels, the head­quar­ters of the EU – an in­sti­tu­tion Scot­land, with the rest of the UK, is about to leave.

Bri­tain has a long-es­tab­lished global net­work of em­bassies, which pro­vide a plat­form for diplo­macy and trade.

But the Scot­tish Govern­ment has been in­creas­ingly keen to es­tab­lish its own of­fices rather than work with the UK.

Last week, a re­sponse to a par­lia­men­tary ques­tion showed it has 18 in Bel­gium, three in Ire­land, three in Ger­many, three in France, four in China, four in the US and three in Canada.

Ac­cord­ing to the Scot­tish Govern­ment fig­ures, the to­tal an­nual cost is £4,745,000.

Pamela Nash, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Union­ist cam­paign group Scot­land in Union, said: ‘It is im­por­tant to at­tract for­eign in­vest­ment to Scot­land, which should be the job of the of­fi­cials in th­ese of­fices who pro­mote Scot­land abroad. But the Scot­tish Govern­ment must not treat th­ese of­fices as sep­a­rate em­bassies and should work closely with the UK Govern­ment.

‘We are stronger when we work to­gether, but the SNP too of­ten prefers to grand­stand on the world stage. Co-op­er­a­tion, not con­flict, is the key to suc­cess.’

A Tax­Pay­ers’ Al­liance spokesman said: ‘It is wrong for the Scot­tish Govern­ment to be wast­ing tax­pay­ers’ money. Diplo­macy is an im­por­tant task, but this is al­ready be­ing done by the For­eign and Com­mon­wealth Of­fice. The Scot­tish Govern­ment should fo­cus on serv­ing the peo­ple of Scot­land, not wast­ing their money on of­fices.’

But a Scot­tish Govern­ment spokesman said: ‘Our net­work of of­fices out­side the UK pro­vide a plat­form to en­hance Scot­land’s in­ter­na­tional pro­file and rep­u­ta­tion, en­cour­ag­ing trade and in­vest­ment and show­cas­ing Scot­land as a great place to live, work, study and visit.

‘In the face of Brexit un­cer­tainty, our in­ter­na­tional pres­ence helps en­sure Scot­land con­tin­ues to be an at­trac­tive place to in­vest and do busi­ness.’

‘Wast­ing the peo­ple’s money on of­fices’

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