Stating a commitment to the economy

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that he will give his Autumn Statement to parliament on December 5, providing an opportunity to hear an update on the government’s plans for the economy, based on the latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility.

I hope he uses the statement to reaffirm this government’s commitment to building a stronger economy and a fairer society.

We have to continue to make the tax and welfare system fairer by supporting people and doing our best to keep costs down for households and business. As an example, this government has already raised the income tax threshold so people keep the first £10,000 of their wages free from income tax.

Also earlier this year, the Chancellor cancelled the fuel duty increase that was planned for September 1, which has been vital to supporting motorists and businesses in rural regions like the Borders

We are also determined to support businesses and growth through investment in manufacturing. A successful textile industry is vital to the prosperity of this region and therefore it is paramount that we invest in the future through apprenticeships and training.

My top priority as local MP in the Autumn Statement discussions will continue to be arguing for further investment for job creation, campaigning for faster and more reliable broadband to come to the Borders quicker, and supporting our thriving manufacturing sectors.

White Paper on Scottish Independence

After months of build-up, there was huge interest and expectation about what was in the SNP’s White Paper for an independent Scotland.

As I write this article (the day before the White Paper was published), it is clear that plenty of voters are intrigued by the prospect, too. The following weeks will see a clear test of the paper’s credibility – we need to hear the nationalists’ case made straightforwardly, distinguishing between what would be under an independent country’s control and what would be subject to serious negotiation, not just assertion, with the rest of the UK and our international partners.

As the Secretary of State for Scotland, I was determined that we would make the case for the Union by sticking firmly to the reality of what leaving the UK would mean for Scotland.

What it would mean for our currency, our economy and our place in the world. I wanted to set out what Scotland has achieved as part of the UK and what we can continue to achieve together in the future.