The brutal tax rises and impact on public services delivered by today's Scottish Budget mark the latest in a litany of Nationalist failures that have done nothing to support Scotland’s business sector.

Indeed, the SNP's disastrous handling of the economy and its mismanagement of devolved policies over the last 15 years have cost businesses dearly.

The Budget bombshells are merely another chapter in a deeply depressing narrative.

The introduction of a 45 per cent tax band for those earning between £75,225 to £125,140 – and increasing the top rate of tax for those earning more than £125,000 from 47 per cent to 48 per cent - will heap yet more pressure on hard-working Scots. 

But we should not be surprised that it is Scotland's higher earners and wealth creators – our entrepreneurs and businesses - that will end up footing the bill for the SNP's fiscal incompetence.

Under the SNP/Green government’s skewed “progressive” tax system, anyone earning more than £28,000 a year already pays more tax in Scotland than they would in England. 

That tax gap is now set to widen further while ministers refuse to accept responsibility for their economic failings.

The default position of the SNP/Green government is to shift the blame to the UK government.

It did so last month when it accused Chancellor Jeremy Hunt of failing to deliver additional cash for the Holyrood budget in his autumn statement

This, despite Mr Hunt pledging that he would give Holyrood an extra £545 million over the financial years 2023/24 and 2024/25.

The truth of the matter is that the tax and public spending blows dealt by the Budget are rooted in years of fiscal mismanagement by the SNP that have punched a £1.5 billion black hole in public finances.

And yet since coming to power in March, Humza Yousaf, the First Minister, began writing cheques that, inevitably, would need to be cashed. 

A £1.7 billion boost to public sector pay and the annual £150 million cost of his council tax freeze, unveiled to much fanfare in his SNP conference speech in Aberdeen in October, had to be paid for somehow.

Now we know the answer.

The result is a Budget that will act as a profound disincentive to inward investors and new business creation in Scotland - higher taxes, further eroding consumer confidence with inevitable impacts on businesses already grappling with rising inflation and interest rates.

The Budget, however, does not stand in isolation as evidence of the SNP's shortcomings.

The most recent GERS figures, drawn up by the Scottish government’s own civil servants, showed how Scotland’s current GDP deficit is 15.1 per cent compared to the UK’s 5.2 per cent. 

Scotland’s annual public sector expenditure is currently almost £107 billion, while our total public sector revenue from taxation is only around £88 billion, leaving a glaring £19 billion deficit that has to be met by an annual fiscal transfer from the Treasury in London. 

The SNP/Green solution to this major problem is, as always, Scottish independence. 

But where would the £19 billion come from after Scotland left the UK? 

Even if Scotland did succeed in eventually re-joining the EU, the inevitable hard border created with England, where we do 63 per cent of our trade - three times more than we do with the rest of the EU combined - would cause catastrophic problems for Scottish business and industry. 

The SNP/Green government has already demonstrated a reckless disregard for the impacts on businesses of ill-thought through policies; the disastrous Deposit Return Scheme – delayed, but not before costing countless millions of pounds to businesses; the Highly Protected Marine Areas scheme - mercifully ditched, that would have closed 10 per cent of Scotland’s waters and devastated the fisheries sector.

Meanwhile, Scottish businesses are rightly outraged by the SNP's refusal to pass on the rates relief enjoyed by firms south of the border. Our farming sector has seen £61m of funding plundered from the agricultural budget without consultation or engagement. This apparent contempt for businesses and rural Scotland is bewildering and deeply worrying. 

The reality is that Scotland's economic woes are a mess of the SNP's making – a mess that has not only harmed business and industry in Scotland but acted as a direct disincentive to economic growth.