4 Oct 2016
Please find below the text of David Mundell’s speech today at Conservative Party Conference at The ICC, Birmingham.
“It is an honour to have the chance to address you all, once more, as the Conservative and Unionist Secretary of State for Scotland.
And I’d like to thank both Lord Dunlop and David Morris, my PPS, for their hard work and support.
Our new Prime Minister spoke for all of us that day in July on the steps of Downing Street.
We are the Conservative and Unionist Party.
I believe with all my heart in the preservation of the Union. It is indeed a ‘precious, precious bond’. And that bond has never been more important.
Because it will be the strong, stable, broad shoulders of the UK that will carry our country through the coming years.
We can’t and won’t provide a running commentary on exiting the EU. But I want to be absolutely clear.
We will negotiate as the United Kingdom, leave as the United Kingdom, and face the future together as the United Kingdom. A Team UK approach.
Because the UK is Scotland’s vital union.
Earlier this year, we passed the Scotland Act 2016. This devolves new powers on tax and spending that will see Holyrood become the most powerful devolved parliament in the world.
We have delivered the Smith Commission in full and I am hugely proud to have taken the legislation successfully through the UK parliament.
As these powers come in, the Scottish government will have new freedom to cut taxes or to raise them. To attract businesses in or drive them away. To trap people on benefits or support them into work.
I may not like that the SNP want to tax families and businesses by £1 billion more than in England – but that is their choice and they will have to account for it to the Scottish people at the ballot box.
The Scottish government will have unprecedented power and freedom to govern Scotland’s affairs.
But, crucially, Scotland will retain the benefits of the UK’s broad shoulders.
It is the Chancellor and the UK Treasury that can guarantee the future of Scotland’s European Structural and Investment Funds projects. For Scotland, that will be worth on average £200 million every year until we leave.
It is the UK’s balance sheet that keeps borrowing rates at historic lows when the Scottish Government’s deficit balloons to almost 10%.
It is the UK’s pooled risk that means the Scottish Government can increase spending by over 3% when their tax revenues fall by over 5%.
The UK is investing in City Deals like Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Inverness.
The UK has delivered the biggest boost to the oil and gas industry in over 20 years.
The UK has introduced the National Living Wage.
And as we look to EU exit, remember that Scotland trades over four times more with the rest of the UK than with the EU.
This is a bedrock of support that can only come from being part of the UK.
Now the new powers are a huge opportunity for the Scottish government.
But so far the SNP have put their obsession with independence above all else.
They’ve abandoned the day job – and Scotland is paying the price.
They spend their time doom-mongering about Brexit and using it as an excuse to threaten a second independence referendum.
That is not what the people of Scotland want. It is a Sword of Damocles – the single biggest threat to Scotland’s economy.
The SNP need to stop pursuing their own ideological agenda and start governing.
They think they have a divine right to hold power and not to be held to account.
We know they don’t.
And they now have Ruth Davidson and her fantastic team of 30 MSPs to prove it.
The Scottish Conservatives had a stunning result in May – and I want to thank everyone here who knocked on doors, made the calls, delivered the leaflets. It was a fantastic effort.
We overtook Scottish Labour as the main opposition.
Not surprising when you heard Jeremy Corbyn’s speech in Liverpool. He didn’t mention Kezia Dugdale. He didn’t mention Scottish Labour. He didn’t even mention the Union. The only thing he did mention was the Glasgow City Deal project that we actually put £500m into.
I’m telling you, the Labour party cannot be trusted with the Union.
Now, every day in Holyrood, it is Ruth and the Conservatives holding the SNP to account.
So we are now a strong opposition at Holyrood and a strong government in Westminster.
Together, we are standing up for the Union.
For its people who are working hard and just managing.
For those with a job but no job security.
For those whose very start in life, whose skin colour, whose sex, whose poverty have denied them the opportunities enjoyed by the privileged few.
And we do this because we are driven by a simple vision.
A United Kingdom that supports anyone, whoever they are, to go as far as their talents will take them.
That is what this government and this Party are about – and it is a privilege to play my part.”