Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of being “wholly distracted” by her bid for a new independence referendum amid warnings that Scotland is “halfway to recession” under the SNP, with its economy trailing behind the UK.
Damning figures revealed that the economy contracted by 0.2 per cent over the last quarter of 2016, while in the rest of the UK the economy grew by 0.7 per cent.
Over the whole of last year, Scottish GDP was up 0.4 per cent, compared to a figure of 1.8 per cent for the UK.
The Scottish Conservatives said that if the performance was mirrored in the first quarter of this year Scotland would officially enter recession.
Business leaders demanded urgent action from SNP ministers and called on them to ditch their high tax regime.
The economist Prof John McLaren said the performance must be remedied “as soon as possible”, but warned the outlook was bleak because of the uncertainty around Brexit and talk of a second independence vote.
The First Minister’s handling of the economy came under fire amid accusations that she had “dumped the day job” in favour of her independence campaign, and as a former SNP minister admitted a new vote would affect “more mundane issues”.
Kenny MacAskill, the former justice minister, said another vote would “slow” the wheels of government, as it did in 2014, while insisting the effect would be “as nothing” compared to the impact of Brexit.