A Scottish Conservative MP as been ridiculed on social media after bizarrely claiming her party ended an “SNP policy” that forced the Scottish Fire Service to pay VAT.
In her tweet, Kirstene Hair MP said: “Fire crews across the UK are already stretched by the hot dry weather – the last thing they need is an increase in malicious fires. Thankfully, @ScotTories ended the SNP policy that saw our fire service pay VAT – the £10 million saved could pay for an extra 350 firefighters.”
The claim prompted angry responses on social media, with many people pointing out the VAT charge on Scottish emergency services was in fact Tory policy.
SNP MSP Michael Russell tweeted: “I presume the assertion regarding VAT is because @Kirstene4Angus has misunderstood the matter – this article from the Herald may help her. After reading it she will, I hope, delete the reference, unless she actively intends to spread completely fake news.”
SNP MSP Michael Matheson tweeted: “It was also debated in Parliament back in October 2017, with support from all parties…..with the exception of the Tories.”
In October 2017, Ruth Davidson’s MSPs refused to back a motion calling on the UK Government to scrap the policy that prevented Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue from reclaiming VAT. During the Holyrood debate, Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said there was “no justification for a VAT refund” for Police Scotland and Scotland’s Fire Service.
A sustained campaign started by the SNP in 2012 eventually led to the UK Government announcing a U-turn on the policy in November 2017.
The policy change meant Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire Service were able to reclaim an estimated £35m annually.
Responding to Kirstene Hair’s bid to claim credit, SNP MSP Paul Wheelhouse tweeted: “I am weighing up whether you believe VAT remark to be true, in which case your research skills are beneath the standard required for an MP, or whether you are deliberately misleading your constituents. Either way, not a good look.”
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