Michael Gove tried to avoid “pitting parts of the UK against each other” over funding for preparations to leave the EU, MSPs have been told.
Scotland has received “just shy” of £200 million to prepare for leaving the EU, according to the Cabinet Office minister, while Northern Ireland has been given £400 million from the Treasury.
Speaking at the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee at Holyrood, Mr Gove said it was a “fair challenge” to ask why Scotland did not receive a population based share of funding, but said he wanted to ensure “that the people of Northern Ireland are able to enjoy the fruits of peace and prosperity”.
Mr Gove went on to say that the UK was built on “solidarity and sharing”, and would help countries within the union that had faced “challenges” in the past.
Scotland would be entitled to £1.4 billion if the funding was issued based on population, SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson said.
Despite appearing to reject the idea of more money for Scotland, Mr Gove said the decision is kept “under review”.
“Pitting one part of the United Kingdom by saying it’s not fair that Northern Ireland benefits … that’s not the sort of thing that I’m terribly keen on,” Mr Gove said.
“My view is that the United Kingdom is built on solidarity and sharing, and that the United Kingdom benefits from the fact that those parts of the UK that may have had a tougher time in the past, we stand by and we support.
“That’s one of the reasons why, from Lanarkshire to Larne, the UK Government spends the money that it does – because we want to show solidarity with those who may have endured whether it was deindustrialisation in the past or other challenges.”