CLAIMS the coronavirus would undermine the case for independence have been rejected by senior SNP and Green politicians.

The argument was put forward yesterday that the outbreak would lead to greater co-operation between the UK and Scottish Governments as they work together to slow the spread of the outbreak.

It was said that if Scotland were to leave the Union the country’s new government would work less well with Westminster on public health issues and that such an approach would weaken the argument for independence.

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But the SNP’s health spokesman at Westminster Philippa Whitford told The National: “Under independence Scotland would collaborate with our nearest neighbours in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on public health issues.

“Why would we not collaborate? That doesn’t mean our closest neighbour has to be the boss of us. Equally we would be keen to collaborate with our EU neighbours on European systems to stop the spread of diseases.

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“Being part of Europe is more relevant to this issue and even though we are still in the pandemic early warning response system, Boris Johnson is not allowing the government to remain in the European Centre for Disease Control - which allows for the sharing of data and information {about the spread of the virus and development of medicines] across EU states, enabling them to work together.”

Her colleague SNP frontbencher Tommy Sheppard added: “The SNP is probably the most internationalist of all political parties in the UK. We want an independent Scotland to be connected to Britain, Europe and the world. We want to be politically independent so we can control the terms of engagement with other nations.”

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He added: “The idea that we want political power in order to put Scotland in some sort of vacuum is an outrageous slur really.”

The criticism was prompted by a column in The Times by Kenny Farquharson who concluded: “The coronavirus crisis will be a learning experience for us all. Early days, of course, but my guess is that the lessons will do no favours for the cause of Scottish independence.”

Commenting on the column on Twitter, Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “The [insert today’s top story] will undermine the case for Scottish independence. Repeat daily; longer version on Sundays.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has demanded “urgent clarification” from the Chancellor over how much cash will go to Scotland to tackle coronavirus.

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Rishi Sunak used his Budget statement yesterday to announce a £30 billion funding package to boost the economy in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Scotland’s Finance Secretary Kate Forbes called for confirmation of what this will mean for the health service in Scotland after the Chancellor pledged to give the NHS “whatever it needs”.

She said: “While I’m pleased to see the UK Government’s economic response to coronavirus following my calls for this at the UK Treasury yesterday, we need confirmation on what this will mean for Scotland.

“We require urgent clarification on what funding Scotland will receive from the announcements made by the UK Government, at a time when the prospects for the economy and public finances remain very uncertain as the short term impacts of Covid-19 unfold.

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“We expect full consequentials from this additional funding and need urgent clarification to provide clarity for Scottish businesses and NHS Scotland to ensure we can respond effectively and deliver for the Scottish people.”

Yesterday it was revealed that one of the nine new coronavirus cases confirmed in Scotland is the first to have been transmitted in the community.

The number of people who have now tested positive for Covid-19 in the country has increased by a third to 36 people, this is up from 27 on Tuesday.

After an update at 2pm yesterday, chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood issued a statement confirming the case was unrelated to contact or travel.

She said: “We have identified the first case of community transmission in Scotland, which is unrelated to contact or travel.

“This was identified through our enhanced surveillance scheme.

“It is important to emphasise that we are still in the containment phase.”