Rishi Sunak tells Nicola Sturgeon Britain should ‘work together’ on Scotland trip

Rishi Sunak tells Nicola Sturgeon that Britain “should work together when fighting over independence and gender rules during his visit to Scotland

  • Rishi Sunak dined with Nicola Sturgeon during his first visit to Scotland as PM
  • The PM insisted the whole of the UK should “work together” on “collective” challenges
  • Prime Minister and SNP leader clash over independence and gender rules

Rishi Sunak has urged Nicola Sturgeon to “work together” as the couple clashed over independence and gender rules during his visit to Scotland.

The Prime Minister and SNP leader had a “robust” exchange during about an hour of dinner talks last night.

In interviews this morning, Mr Sunak said he wanted to work together on “challenges we are all facing together in Britain”.

He also made it clear that the UK government is still considering how to respond to Holyrood-passed legislation that would lower the age limit for gender identity change and remove the requirement for a medical diagnosis.

Ms Sturgeon said the discussions had been “cordial” – but swept up Mr Sunak not providing more money to the NHS.

The Prime Minister later unveiled two freeports on the second day of his trip – but the Scottish First Minister has declined an invitation to join him for the announcement, saying she has to chair an emergency public health meeting.

Rishi Sunak and Nicola Sturgeon had a

Rishi Sunak and Nicola Sturgeon had a “robust” exchange during last night’s roughly hour-long dinner talks

Mr Sunak roasted marshmallows during a visit by the Sea Scouts Community Group to Muirtown near Inverness last night

Mr Sunak roasted marshmallows during a visit by the Sea Scouts Community Group to Muirtown near Inverness last night

Mr Sunak said the Scottish and UK governments should continue to work on things that are important to the people of Scotland, although they disagree on the issue of independence.

He told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio show: “I truly believe that the people of Scotland want and expect both their governments to work with relentless focus on the issues that matter to them.

“Right now everyone is recognizing that all of our different parts of the UK are facing challenges in their NHS. We see the impact of the Russian war against Ukraine and what this means for our energy supply. These are all really important things that we should be working on together.

“We just had a verdict (on the independence referendum). The Scottish Government took this case to the Supreme Court which was perfectly clear that the Scottish Government would be able to do so unilaterally.

“I want to have a constructive dialogue with the Scottish Government to ensure we can continue to deliver for the people of Scotland.

“Today’s announcement of the two new free ports is an example of how we’re doing that.”

Ms Sturgeon said: “Obviously Rishi Sunak and I disagree on many points but we were able to talk about a few areas where the Scottish and UK Governments can work together.

“Obviously we’ve talked a bit about the NHS and the pressures people are living under right now.

“We talked about how we can work together to realize the huge potential for renewable energy that Scotland has.”

She told the BBC: “No indication of new money from the PM but hopefully we will see strong investment in the NHS.

“The Scottish Government continues to work hard to avert strikes in the NHS.”

Mr Sunak will announce today that the Cromarty Firth and Forth bids have won the race to secure free port status north of the border. There will be a huge boost for jobs in both sectors where various economic regulations will be put in place to attract investment and improve employment.

It will likely include a more favorable tax regime for companies like manufacturers looking to import goods.

Mr Sunak with Sea Scouts near Inverness last night

Mr Sunak with Sea Scouts near Inverness last night

The Prime Minister was joined by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack as he spoke to the Scouts

The Prime Minister was joined by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack as he spoke to the Scouts

The free port decision was made jointly with the Scottish Government. No10 said Mr Sunak would “announce the joint delivery by the Scottish and UK Governments of millions of UK Government funds creating thousands of high quality green jobs, driving growth, potentially attracting billions in private sector investment and providing opportunities for people across Scotland will ‘.

The First Minister is understood to have declined an invitation to appear alongside the Prime Minister at an event to announce freeports today as she chairs a meeting of the Scottish Government’s Resilience Room to discuss the NHS crisis.

The consortium behind Cromarty Firth Freeport has claimed it can “revolutionize” the Highland economy and stimulate new manufacturing activity, creating “tens of thousands” of jobs. It is supported by the operators of the ports of Cromarty Firth and Inverness, as well as the Highland Council and the Global Energy Group.

Forth Freeport will include the Port of Rosyth and Burntisland in Fife, Leith, Edinburgh Airport and Grangemouth. Forth Ports, Babcock and Scarborough Muir Group previously claimed the plan could bring in investment of up to £1billion and 7,000 green jobs.

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Emma Colton

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