Boris Johnson calls for ‘prohibition’ on constitution debate

Boris Johnson has called for a “prohibition” on constitutional debate amid the coronavirus crisis after being challenged by the SNP over the Scottish Secretary’s call for Scotland to exit the lockdown “in lockstep” with the rest of the UK.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of CommonsPrime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons

In an article in the Daily Mail on Tuesday, Alister Jack said a “simple, clear, united message” will be “much more effective” after the Scottish Government took a different stance on some businesses remaining open, and on aspects of testing policy.

Nicola Sturgeon has also warned against a premature exit from lockdown and said Scotland could go its own way if the UK moves too quickly to ease social distancing restrictions.

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At his first Prime Minister's Questions since returning from his own recovery from coronavirus, and the birth of his son Wilfred last week, Mr Johnson was asked by SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford if he agreed that “our approach should only be led by the best medical and scientific advice, not the politics of posturing”.

Mr Blackford called on the Prime Minister to “end this period of mixed messaging from the UK Government” and agree that a speech expected on Sunday setting out the plan for exiting the lockdown “will be fully agreed to with the devolved nations”.

“Instead of working with the Scottish Government, the Scottish Secretary has been making political arguments about the constitution rather than scientific ones about saving lives, and he’s not the only one,” the SNP MP said.

“This is not the time for opportunistic politicking. This is the time when we all must work together to protect our NHS and to save lives.”

The Prime Minister replied: “We will do our level best to make sure that the outlines of this attract the widest possible consensus. I think that they can and ought to.

“And I'm delighted by his call for a prohibition on ‘political arguments about the constitution’. I think that would be warmly welcomed across this country.”

Opposition parties at Westminster including the SNP will hold talks with Mr Johnson and ministers tomorrow afternoon as the government prepares a staged plan for easing social distancing, with the emphasis expected to be on getting people back to work and reopening as much of the economy as possible, without triggering what the Prime Minister said would be the “economic catastrophe” of a second spike in infections.

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