General election 2019: Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP launch speech fact-checked


Nichola Sturgeon

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Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has launched the Scottish National Party’s election campaign in Edinburgh.

She made a few claims worth looking at – the first was about the potential impact of Brexit on Scotland.

Talking about the prospect of the UK leaving the European Union’s (EU) single market and customs union, she said: “Economic analysis says that it will cost every person in Scotland £1,600”.

The single market is the agreement between EU countries that provides for free movement of people, goods, services and capital, while also having the same regulations about things like food safety, transport and packaging.

The customs union is an agreement to have no taxes charged on trade between EU countries, while charging the same taxes on things coming from outside the bloc.

The figure came from a Scottish government assessment in January 2018 (before either Theresa May’s or Boris Johnson’s deals).

It estimated that leaving the single market and customs union would mean Scotland’s GDP (the value of the total output of the country) would be 6.1% lower by 2030 than it would have been if the UK had stayed in the EU.

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It predicted that would knock £9bn off Scottish output (in 2016 pounds), which it divided by the population of Scotland to get about £1,600 per person.

So it’s saying that GDP per person would be £1,600 lower than it would otherwise have been in 11 years, but that’s not the same as costing each individual £1,600.

GDP includes other things like company profits, some of which could go to shareholders outside Scotland. GDP per head does feed into average income, but it is not necessarily on a one-to-one basis.

To be clear, almost all economic analysis predicts that, over this sort of time period, leaving the customs union and the single market would mean GDP would be lower than it would have been if the UK had stayed in the EU.

But the £1,600 per person figure is unhelpful.

You can read more about this from the BBC’s Scotland economics editor Douglas Fraser here.

A&E performance across UK

% of patients dealt with inside four hours

The first minister also said: “We have the best performing accident and emergency services anywhere in the United Kingdom.”

Health is a devolved power, and each nation expects 95% of patients to be treated or admitted in four hours.

Nicola Sturgeon is right to say that performance against this target was better in Scotland than in the rest of the UK in 2018-19 – when 91.2% of patients were treated or admitted in that time – but Scotland still missed its target.

The figure compares with 88% in England, 80% in Wales and 69.9% Northern Ireland.

Scotland is also the most recent nation to have hit the target, which it achieved in the summer of 2017.

You can read more about it in this piece from last year.

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