Boris Johnson hails ‘sheer might’ of union as he heads to Scotland

Boris Johnson has hailed the “sheer might” of the union in helping the country through the coronavirus pandemic as he prepares to mark a year in office today with a visit to Scotland.

The Prime Minister will meet local businesses to discuss how they are getting back on their feet, as well as talking to entrepreneurs about how green technology is driving innovation across Scotland.

He will also meet military personnel to thank them for the job they are doing in the fight against coronavirus.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Mr Johnson has claimed ahead of the visit north of the Border that the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated that each part of the UK benefits from the “strength of the union” and insisted this has helped the country through this crisis.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves for PMQS. Picture: Andrew Parsons/No.10 Downing Street

“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,” Mr Johnson said ahead of the visit. “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.”

Recent polling on independence suggests a small majority of Scots now favour breaking away from the UK, but Mr Johnson has ruled out the prospect of allowing a referendum.

He said: “In Scotland, the UK’s magnificent armed forces have been on the ground doing vital work to support the NHS, from setting up and running mobile testing sites to airlifting critically ill patients to hospitals from some of Scotland’s most remote communities.

“And the UK Treasury stepped in to save the jobs of a third of Scotland’s entire workforce and kept the wolves at bay for tens of thousands of Scottish businesses.

“More than ever, this shows what we can achieve when we stand together, as one United Kingdom.”

In Scotland, the UK Treasury has protected more than 900,000 jobs and granted thousands of businesses loans, while the UK’s armed forces has airlifted critically ill patients from some of the most remote communities and helped convert temporary hospitals and run mobile testing sites.

But SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford told Mr Johnson yesterday that the more Scotland sees of the UK Government, the more convinced people are about the need for independence.

He told the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions: “Yesterday the Tory Party held a political cabinet with the Prime Minister in a panic about the majority in increasing support for Scottish independence. Apparently their great strategy amounts to more UK cabinet ministers coming to Scotland.

“Can I tell the Prime Minister – the more Scotland sees of this UK Government, the more convinced they are the need for Scotland’s independence. A far better plan for the Tories would be to listen to the will of the Scottish people.

“So before his visit tomorrow, will the Prime Minister call a halt to his Government’s full-frontal attack on devolution?”

Boris Johnson responded: “I really don’t know what (Mr Blackford) is talking about.

“The only Bill I could think of that’s before the House and will be coming before the House that I know enjoys cross-party support is the UK Internal Market Bill, although that is a massively devolutionary Bill which gives huge powers straight back from Brussels to Scotland, its principle purpose is to protect jobs and protect growth throughout the entire United Kingdom.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said the support provided to people and businesses during the pandemic by UK ministers has been “unprecedented.”

“We have supported 900,000 jobs in Scotland with our furlough and self-employed schemes, including 11,600 across the islands,” Mr Jack said.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.