Rishi Sunak made a whistlestop tour of Scotland – where he avoided most of the press and praised his own policies live on social media.
The Chancellor wanted to meet people and firms supported by the UK Government during the pandemic.
The Treasury found time for tightly controlled visits to unannounced locations in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Fife but did not make space for questions from journalists from papers including The Courier.
It was arranged days after UK trade minister Liz Truss did the rounds in Scotland, where she claimed businesses are excited about Brexit but declined to put a figure on how many jobs her plans will create north of the border.
Tory Government ministers think they have the right to preach about what’s best for the people of this country just because they visit once in a blue moon.”
– SNP MSP Emma Harper
Access to Mr Sunak was through a pooled media session without the opportunity for others to raise questions about the impact of UK policy across their regions.
The senior minister focused on his live stream on You Tube and put out some glossy pictures on his account and linked to a government report.
Great to be in Scotland today where I met business leaders, people returning to work at a summer school and staff helping set up at the Fringe.
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) July 29, 2021
The live feed included figures from the Scottish tourism industry, billed by the government as opportunity for Mr Sunak to chat about how his plan for jobs has helped them reopen.
Officials kept the wider media away, with sources blaming Covid rules and a “packed” schedule.
According to pooled reporting, Mr Sunak was in Methil to praise his Kickstart scheme.
He saw a demonstration wind turbine at the ORE Catapult facility as well as meeting other business leaders involved in the renewable energy sector.
‘Not done helping people’
The Chancellor said the green energy sector was “so important” to the future economy.
He also claimed the UK Government is “not done helping people” – despite ending a £20 uplift in Universal Credit.
“It’s been a challenging time but the UK Government has delivered one of the most generous packages of support in the world, protecting one in three Scottish jobs,” he said in a statement.
“Scotland will be key in ensuring the UK’s economic success – creating jobs, powering our growth and driving a green recovery by hosting COP26 later this year.”
Earlier, the SNP said he should have taken the opportunity to apologise for ending the furlough wage support scheme “early”.
After the visit, SNP MSP Emma Harper said: “It’s increasingly wearisome that Tory Government ministers think they have the right to preach about what’s best for the people of this country just because they visit once in a blue moon.
“Rishi Sunak, just like Boris Johnson, does not care about Scotland – that’s why he refused to extend furlough for Scottish workers until those in England started demanding it.
“The SNP Scottish Government will continue to focus on what’s best for Scotland by bringing the country through the pandemic. Then the people of Scotland will get to choose their own priorities in a post-pandemic referendum – for which there is a cast-iron democratic mandate – when it is safe to do so.”