SNP news: Sturgeon’s £8m bill for overseas offices promoting Scottish independence | Politics | News | Express.co.uk

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Figures revealed in a Holyrood question showed the SNP-led Scottish Government budgeted £8,139,000 on employing 52 members of staff in eight hubs across the world in the 2021/22 financial year.Their goal is to “strengthen Scotland’s international relationships” with offices in Berlin, Washington, Paris, Beijing, Dublin and Ottawa and Brussels as well as the UK capital.

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SNP crisis as Sturgeon’s own minister reported over breach of code Nat ministers are set to spend the most on their Brussels HQ, home of the European Commission, with 17 people employed at a cost of £2.3m a year.

Elsewhere, their London base will cost £2.2m with 14 staff whilst their HQ in Washington has a budget of £805,000 with four staff.

SNP ministers are also looking to expand their portfolio worldwide following a pact with the Scottish Greens at an additional cost of at least £1m a year.

Their coalition-style deal’s draft agreement outlines aims for government bases in the Danish capital Copenhagen and Warsaw in Poland.

The Scottish Government budgeted £8.1m this year for Overseas Offices (Image: Getty)

Stephen Kerr MSP, Scottish Tory chief whip (Image: PA) Trending Daniel Johnson, Scottish Labour’s finance spokesperson, said the £8.1m bill was “eye-watering”

He added: “If these offices are focussed on trade why are they in administrative cities such as Washington, Ottawa and Berlin rather than the commercial centres of New York, Toronto and Frankfurt.

“I fear the answer has more to do with political posture than economic utility.

“At a time where we can’t staff ambulances, finish ferries or even pick up peoples’ bins in our largest city, the plan to expand these overseas offices beggars belief.

READ MORE: SNP MP complains over plans to make ‘distinctly British’ TV programmes

£2.3m has been allocated for the Scottish Office in Brussels (Image: Getty) “Their focus should be on matters closer to home, rather than continuing to rack up this bill in expanding overseas offices.”

Mr Kerr previously wrote a letter to former foreign secretary Dominic Raab about the SNP’s decision to open the offices earlier this year.

In the letter, the Central Scotland MSP requested that the UK Government remind First Minister Nicola Sturgeon “of the missions and embassies provided by the UK Government.”

Scottish ministers recently said in a Business Plan for Scotland House Brussels that they wanted to “promote understanding around discussions on Scotland’s constitutional future” to the EU as well as the Member States.

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Daniel Johnson, Scottish Labour finance spokesperson (Image: PA) In the 2020-21 plan, officials claim Brussels stakeholders and influencers also “understand Scotland’s distinct position on its right to choose its constitutional future.”

The findings come as the Scottish Parliament’s Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee launched an inquiry into the Scottish Government’s external affairs policy.

The inquiry will examine how Nationalist ministers should engage with the European Union and the rest of the world following the UK’s departure from the EU.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our international presence is even more important in the wake of Brexit and the damage it is causing to our economy, jobs and trade – and in supporting a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Work to attract investment by our offices both at home and overseas helped increase foreign direct investment into Scotland by 6% in 2020, compared to a 12% fall across the UK as a whole.”

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