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Ian Blackford in swipe at Boris Johnson over ‘retrain’ and ‘reskill’ advert

Ian Blackford confronts Boris Johnson in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV. - Credit: Archant

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has taken a swipe at Boris Johnson over the government’s scheme encouraging people to “retrain” and “reskill” themselves to stay in work.

Blackford told the prime minister that he will never be forgiven if he refuses to U-turn on the ending of the furlough scheme, before referencing a series of government adverts which recommend changing careers.

He said during PMQs: “These half-measures don’t cover it. Thousands have already lost their jobs. The ONS has confirmed the highest rate of redundancies since 2009. We’re heading towards a Tory winter of mass unemployment, created by the prime minister and the chancellor.

Advertisements promoting the government’s Cyber First scheme – Credit: QA

“We know what the prime minister’s Tory colleagues are saying – the prime minister’s next job could be on the backbenches (he just doesn’t know it yet).

“If the prime minister won’t U-turn on his plans to scrap furlough, does he realise he will never, not ever, be forgiven for the damage he is just about to cause to people up and down Scotland?”

Boris Johnson responded: “As I say and I have said many times to (Blackford), this government is continuing to support people across the whole of the UK. Many billions of pounds of Barnett consequential, at least £5 billion in Barnett consequentials for Scotland alone.

“But one thing I will congratulate him on is the Scottish nationalist party’s support for the tiered approach, which I think is still their policy, unlike the party opposite. At least they’re showing some vestige of consistency in their normal gelatinous behaviour.”

The government was criticised for the series of Cyber First advertisements after accusations it dismissed the importance of the arts industry. It eventually led to an image of a dancer being encouraged to consider a career in “cyber” disappearing from a training website.

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