Boris Johnson hails ‘sheer might of our union’ in Covid-19 fight as he heads to Scotland to mark first year as PM
The Prime Minister will talk up the UK-wide response to Covid-19.
Boris Johnson has praised the “sheer might” of the United Kingdom in the coronavirus crisis as he marked one year as Prime Minister with a trip to Scotland.
The Tory leader is heading north of the border to argue that the response to the pandemic makes the case for Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom.
His visit comes after a recent poll for The Sunday Times found support for Scottish independence stood at 54% — with Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP on course for another victory at next year’s Holyrood elections.
Number 10 are using the trip to highlight how Scotland has been helped in the pandemic by support from the UK Government.
The PM will talk up the Treasury’s job protection schemes and business loans, the support of the armed forces in remote communities, and the buying of personal protective equipment for Scottish workers on the frontline.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has also promised £4.6bn in direct support to the Scottish Government during the crisis.
Mr Johnson said: “When I stood on the steps of Downing Street one year ago, I pledged to be a Prime Minister for every corner of the United Kingdom. Whether you are from East Kilbride or Dumfries, Motherwell or Paisley, I promised to level up across Britain and close the opportunity gap.
“The last six months have shown exactly why the historic and heartfelt bond that ties the four nations of our country together is so important and the sheer might of our union has been proven once again.”
The Prime Minister added: “More than ever, this shows what we can achieve when we stand together, as one United Kingdom.”
Number 10 is also promising £50m in funding for Scottish islands Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, with the Government saying the cash will be used to invest in local projects and job-creation.
Scottish Secretary Allister Jack said: “The City Region and Growth Deals will be crucial to our economic recovery from coronavirus. Today’s announcement means that every corner of Scotland will benefit from these and takes the UK Government’s investment in growth deals across Scotland to more than £1.5 billion.”
The PM is also due to meet members of the military based in Scotland to thank them for their work in responding to Covid-19.
'IN A PANIC'
But the visit comes amid deep splits with the Scottish government over the fight against coronavirus, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in recent months attacking the UK administration’s public health messaging and measures to quarantine international arrivals.
The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford on Wednesday claimed the Prime Minister was “in a panic about the majority and increasing support for Scottish independence” after Mr Johnson urged ministers to do more to defend the Union.
“Apparently, their great strategy amounts to more UK Cabinet Ministers coming to Scotland,” he said.
“Can I tell the Prime Minister that the more Scotland sees of this UK Government, the more convinced it is of the need for Scotland’s independence?
“A far better plan for the Tories would be to listen to the will of the Scottish people.“