On Wednesday, the Chancellor has announced that his Budget provides an additional £2.4billion to the devolved administrations in 2021-22 through the Barnett formula, with the Scottish Government getting a £1.2billion funding boost. Rishi Sunak said: “The UK Government has protected millions of jobs and livelihoods across Scotland – and the strength and stability of our economic union will ensure we bounce back from this pandemic together. “This Budget will ensure the people of Scotland continue to be supported through our Plan for Jobs, committing more than £1billion in extra investment and funding to help fuel the UK’s recovery.”
The Treasury noted that individuals and businesses in Scotland also continue to be supported through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, self-employment grants, loan schemes and VAT cuts.
By tipping hundreds of millions of pounds directly into the pockets of Scottish communities, bypassing Holyrood, Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes to thwart Scottish independence.
Spearheaded by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, the funding is expected to go towards community centres, local parks, shared spaces projects and other schemes “that make an obvious impact on regenerating a local community”.
One Cabinet minister told The Telegraph: “We want people in Scotland to see where the butter comes from.”
As part of the plans, Union flag branding will be used in many of the projects funded by the Government.
The funding will be funnelled through the Community Renewal Fund, which is being replaced in 2022-23 by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
The latter aims to compensate for the loss of EU funding, but will not be allocated by the Scottish Government.
Instead, Westminster will use the powers outlined in the UK Internal Market Act to allow it to bypass the devolved administrations.
Mr Jack told the Telegraph: “Scotland has two governments, and it is absolutely right that the UK Government invests directly in Scotland.
“We will be working with local authorities, who know their communities well.
“People in Scotland can expect significant direct UK Government investment in their communities in the coming months and years.”
Mr Johnson seems to be following the advice of constitutional historian Vernon Bogdanor, who in an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk suggested the Prime Minister could rule out Scottish independence forever if he helped Scotland with some of its devolved powers.
He said: “First of all, the Scots are not handling the devolved powers they have got very well – education and health.
“The whole constitutional argument is detracting attention from the poor outcome in education and health in Scotland, which is much worse than the rest of the country.
“They haven’t adopted the reforms of both New Labour and the Conservatives.
“For example, great diversity of schools and in the health service, the introduction of some private provisions.
“Figures from the Programme for International Student Assessment [PISA] show that numeracy and literacy are in general decline.”
Prof Bogdanor further explained that the independence issue could be put to bed once and for all, if Westminster issues grants in the right way.
He continued: “The Government could give specific grants to improve literacy and numeracy.
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“So if I were Boris Johnson, I would say ‘look we have been in a marriage for 300 years.
“‘If you are divorcing to join the EU, you will join 27 other members who are not going to help you with the NHS or education.'”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she will hold an advisory referendum on independence if her Scottish National Party (SNP) wins a majority in May’s Holyrood elections, regardless of what Mr Johnson thinks about.
Her party has set out an 11-point roadmap for taking forward another vote, which was presented to members of the SNP’s national assembly last month.
The SNP leader told the BBC’s Andrew Marr: “I want to have a legal referendum, that’s what I’m going to seek the authority of the Scottish people for in May and if they give me that authority that’s what I intend to do: to have a legal referendum to give people the right to choose.
“That’s democracy. It’s not about what I want or what Boris Johnson wants.”
The SNP leader’s comments came as a four-nation polling for the Sunday Times found that a majority of voters in Scotland and Northern Ireland want referendums on the breakup of Britain.