South Scotland MSP Emma Harper has called out Dumfries and Galloway MP and Scottish Secretary – Alister Jack – over flippant comments he made when attending the Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee.

Speaking at the committee about future planning, Mr Jack made comments on a number of local Dumfries and Galloway issues including that the Stranraer Waterfront is not derelict and only requires some “roundup”, that the Scottish Government must do more for the waterfront, despite £6m being ringfenced for development, and that the potential bridge between South Scotland and Northern Ireland is actually only a euphemism, and that it could now in fact be a tunnel.

In a statement, the South Scotland MSP branded these statements as “out of touch”, “contradictory” and “bizarre”, and has written to him to raise these issues.

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

“These statements from Alister Jack at the Europe Committee in the Scottish Parliament fly in the face of reality. Not only do they contradict statements from the Prime Minister, they also are inaccurate and out of touch with the on the ground situation in his own constituency – an area I am proud to represent.

“Anyone who knows Stranraer knows that the waterfront has rusting and dangerous ferry infrastructure, has broken and cracked ground and is in a state of disrepair. It is very clear to me that the area is derelict which is described by the oxford dictionary as:   in a very poor condition as a result of disuse and neglect.

“I am also confused over Mr Jack’s comments about the bridge the Prime Minister would like to build between Scotland and Northern Ireland being a euphemism, and that this may now be a tunnel – I would like further clarity from Mr Jack on this, and on whether the feasibility study which is to be carried out will be focussed on a bridge, a tunnel or both.

“Whatever form this Boris project takes, it will cost well over £20bn. This is money which I would sooner see spent improving South Scotland transport infrastructure, making our region more connected and improving the quality of life for those living here.

“I will be writing to the Scottish Secretary about these comments, to find out more detail about the tunnel or bridge and about the inaccurate comments over the Scottish Government money allocated for waterfront redevelopment.”