Border between England and Scotland could create jobs, claims SNP candidate

Simon Johnson
·2 min read
An anti-Brexit pro-Scottish independence activist holds a flag mixing the EU flag - ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP
An anti-Brexit pro-Scottish independence activist holds a flag mixing the EU flag - ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP

The creation of a border with England could create jobs in a separate Scotland despite it erecting barriers with the country's dominant trading partner, an SNP candidate in the Holyrood election has said.

Emma Harper, who was an MSP in the last parliament and is standing in Galloway and West Dumfries, said that "we can show that a border can work" if Scotland left the UK.

She insisted that "we want the softest of borders" despite the SNP's blueprint for a separate Scotland to join the EU leading to a hard customs border with England.

The Tories said the intervention showed how "clueless" the SNP was about the devastating economic impact of independence. Scotland's trade with the rest of the UK is worth more than three times that with the EU.

It came as Nicola Sturgeon told a radio phone-in that a second independence referendum would "probably" already have happened if the Covid pandemic had not occurred.

Ms Sturgeon wants to stage a separation vote by the end of 2023, after world leaders have stopped announcing mass Covid deaths but while Scotland is recovering from the deepest recession in centuries.

The London School of Economics has estimated that independence would be between two and three times as costly as Brexit, even if Scotland joined the EU.

In an interview with ITV Border's Representing Border programme, Ms Harper said: "We’ve already got a hard border in the Irish Sea and that’s something that Boris Johnson told us we were not gonna have."

Emma Harper, SNP MSP for South Scotland, and her Border Collie Maya win Holyrood dog of the year 2017 - Sandy Young/PA
Emma Harper, SNP MSP for South Scotland, and her Border Collie Maya win Holyrood dog of the year 2017 - Sandy Young/PA

Pressed on why they would add another one in the Scottish Borders, she said: "If a border will work we can show that a border will work, there are issues that have been brought to my attention that show that jobs can be created if a border is created."

Oliver Mundell, the Scottish Tory candidate for Dumfriesshire, said: "This shows how dangerously out-of-touch the SNP really are – they think a border between Scotland and our biggest trading partner would actually create jobs.

“This half-witted nonsense would be laughable if it wasn’t so irresponsible. A harder border would risk the hundreds of thousands of Scottish jobs that rely on the UK market.”