‘Focus on NHS before independence’ Swinney squirms as Naga Munchetty hits out at SNP plans

John Swinney grilled by Naga Munchetty over SNP’s NHS stance

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Scotland Deputy First Minister was pressed by BBC Breakfast host Naga Munchetty to defend the SNP’s focus on a second vote for Scottish independence over all other priorities. It comes after Nicola Sturgeon admitted her party had taken its “eye off the ball” when it came to the management of Scotland’s NHS. Ms Munchetty asked the SNP politician: “Are you going to guarantee that you will focus on navigating Scotland out of the pandemic wholly?

“You will then focus on cutting drug deaths and bring those numbers down.

“Focus on funding for the NHS before you then focus on an independence referendum?

Mr Swinney replied: “I think what is important is to see some of these issues not within the binary context that you put to me

“There are many things that government does on a daily basis across a range of different particular policy choices.”

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He continued: “We will set out in great detail many of those that we are proposing to take forward.

“Should the government be re-elected on May 6.”

“Would you put independence, an independence referendum on a par in terms of importance as funding for the NHS,” quizzed Naga.

Mr Swinney replied: “Let’s take a particular example, the SNP is determined to tackle child poverty within Scotland and to end child poverty.

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“Now one of the challenges that we face is that child poverty in Scotland is rising because of the attack on the welfare system made by the United Kingdom conservative government.

The clash on BBC Breakfast comes after Nicola Sturgeon admitted to taking her “eye off the ball” when dealing with Scotland’s drug crisis during the Scottish leaders’ debate.

In the STV debate, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “Drug deaths in Scotland have doubled in the time you have been first minister, why did you allow a drug rehabilitation facility in your own constituency to close two years ago?”

Ms Sturgeon responded: “I think we took our eye off the ball with drug deaths and I’ve said as much to the Scottish Parliament.

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“I set out what we will do to try and turn that around.

“I set out at the start of this year £250million investment programme to build up rehabilitation services including residential rehabilitation to make sure we give more support to community services, to make sure we provide faster access to treatment.

“We have a task force working on that.”

Mr Ross interjected: “And you know that’s funding we asked for as Scottish Conservatives and I welcome that funding but it doesn’t take back a single life that’s already been lost.”

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