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Thu, 13 August 2020

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Boris Johnson vows to renew 'ties that bind' United Kingdom amid no-deal Brexit split with Ruth Davidson

Boris Johnson vows to renew 'ties that bind' United Kingdom amid no-deal Brexit split with Ruth Davidson
3 min read

Boris Johnson has promised to renew "the ties that bind our United Kingdom" as he makes his first visit to Scotland as Prime Minister amid a bitter Brexit row with Ruth Davidson.

The Conservative leader will pledge £300m of new funding for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland through a string of "growth deals" to help communities beyond England.

But the move comes amid deep splits with Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson over the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.

Speaking ahead of his visit, Mr Johnson said: "Our Union is the most successful political and economic union in history. We are a global brand, and together we are safer, stronger and more prosperous.

"So as we prepare for our bright future after Brexit, it's vital we renew the ties that bind our United Kingdom.

"I'm proud to be in Scotland today to make clear that I am a passionate believer in our great Union, and I look forward to visiting Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure that every decision I make as prime minister promotes and strengthens our Union."

The money will be unveiled during a trip to a military base in Scotland, with Number 10 saying he would work "closely" with devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to allocate the cash.

The funding comes on top of a £3.6bn pledge at the weekend to boost towns across the country.

He will add: "Important projects like government’s Growth Deals – today backed with £300m new funding – will open up opportunities across our Union so people in every corner of the United Kingdom can realise their potential."

But the new Prime Minister's visit to Scotland comes after Ms Davidson - credited with turning around the Tories' electoral fortunes north of the Border - made clear that she "won’t support" Britain leaving the EU without a deal as the party's Scottish leader.


Setting up a fresh clash with Mr Johnson ahead of their first meeting since he took over as PM, Ms Davidson said she would not "be backward in challenging Mr Johnson's Government".

The Scottish Tory leader was reportedly “livid” when her ally David Mundell was sacked as Scottish Secretary last week week.

Writing in the Scottish Mail on Sunday she said: "When I was debating against the pro-Brexit side in 2016, I don't remember anybody saying we should crash out of the EU with no arrangements in place to help maintain the vital trade that flows uninterrupted between Britain and the European Union."

Ms Davidson added: "I don't think the Government should pursue a No Deal Brexit and, if it comes to it, I won't support it.

"I wrote to tell the former prime minister Theresa May that last year and I confirmed my position to her successor when I spoke to him last week."

The SNP pounced on the split between the pair, urging Ms Davidson to "find a backbone and oppose disastrous Tory plans for a no-deal Brexit".

The party's Europe spokesperson Stephen Gethins said: "As the European elections showed, the Tories support for Brexit is damaging them in Scotland - and they will face an electoral backlash if they drag Scotland out of the EU against our will.
"Now is not the time for more of Ms Davidson's flip-flopping or PR exercises. She must give a cast iron guarantee that all Scottish Tory MPs will vote against a catastrophic no-deal Brexit, which threatens to cause a recession, destroy 100,000 Scottish jobs, and cost every person in the country £2,300 a year."

Labour meanwhile dismissed Mr Johnson's £300m cash boost as "a drop in the ocean".

Shadow Treasury minister Jonathan Reynolds said: "With one in four children in Scotland living in poverty, the time for tinkering at the edges like this is over."


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