Ian Blackford shamed as Scotland suffers severe job losses

IAN BLACKFORD was put on the spot over the SNP’s role in widespread job losses across Scotland’s aviation and tourism industry after the delayed imposition of its quarantine policy.

Ian Blackford was challenged over the SNP‘s role in the job losses the Scottish tourism and aviation industries have suffered because of the quarantine requirements the Scottish Government imposed. BBC Today presenter Mishal Husain questioned the delay in enforcing the new rule despite the negative impact suffered in key sectors already facing huge threats because of the coronavirus pandemic. Ms Husain said: “In the words of the boss of Aberdeen International Airport, youve got a policy thats not even been enforced that played a role in thousands of jobs being lost in aviation and tourism.

“What was the point of having a quarantine policy that wasnt enforced?

“Im sure you can see why people looking at this in the light of the way Nicola Sturgeon has called the quarantine plan and the way out of it, the air bridges, shambolic…youve had this policy that hasnt been enforced and has done damage to businesses in Scotland.”

Mr Blackford, the SNP’s leader in Westminster, insisted the Scottish Government was focused on ensuring the Scottish economy would be able to recover from the crisis the pandemic caused.

He also insisted the delay in implementing the quarantine measures was the result of discussions with the other nations to agree on a memorandum of understanding.

Mr Blackford said: “I dont think its a case of doing damage in Scotland. We want to make sure business can flourish, we want to make sure the economy comes out of this. We want to make sure there is a plan that the economy can recover but that we can also deal with the issue of inequality.

“The quarantine policy is something thats been brought in across the United Kingdom, is led by the Border Force and we need to get to a situation that the Scottish Government had access to the data.

“Its taken some time to do that, now its in place. As you said yourself, checks on those that are coming into the country are now going to be taking place.

“Because we had to get a memorandum of understanding across the different governments, its taken a while to do that.”

The Scottish Government has faced backlash over the past weeks for “dithering” over the adoption of air bridges to kickstart the aviation business back into action after the lockdown.

England announced a list of over 30 countries on which the quarantine requirements will no longer apply on July 10.

The move was designed in a bid to attract tourists back to the UK following the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Officials from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen have urged Nicola Sturgeon to provide clarity as soon as possible, warning the delay has already cost the industry thousands of jobs.

The representatives insisted a “targeted, risk-based approach” such as the adoption of air bridges would allow them to “safely re-establish routes” and stop the loss of further jobs.

Nicola Sturgeon branded the strategy of air bridges as “shambolic”, claiming the list the British Government had asked Scotland to sign up to had been changed without consulting her.

She said: “When so much is at stake as it is right now we can’t allow ourselves to be dragged along in the wake of, to be quite frank about it, another government’s shambolic decision process,” she said.

“We want to welcome visitors again from around the world and we also want to allow our own citizens to travel.

“We also want, if possible for obvious practical reasons, to have alignment on these matters with the rest of the UK.”