Boris Johnson: I back Ruth Davidson to become Scotland’s next First Minister

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has declared he will throw his weight behind Ruth Davidson’s campaign to become the next First Minister of Scotland as he proffered an olive branch to his Scottish party leader in an attempt to heal the growing divide over a no-deal Brexit.

Despite announcing a “war cabinet” to step up preparations for leaving the EU without a deal at the weekend, Mr Johnson said yesterday during his first visit to Scotland since becoming Prime Minister he was “with Ruth” in his determination to avoid a no-deal Brexit and to hammer out a new deal.

Ms Davidson, who did not support Mr Johnson in the Tory leadership campaign to replace Theresa May, has been clear that she cannot support a no-deal Brexit ahead of meeting in person with Mr Johnson in Edinburgh yesterday.

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The Scottish Tories leader has also said she is aiming to become Scotland’s next First Minister at the 2021 Holyrood elections.

Boris Johnson has declared his support for Ruth Davidson to become Scotland's next First Minister as the prime minister attempts to heal the growing divide over a no-deal Brexit. Picture: John Devlin
Boris Johnson has declared his support for Ruth Davidson to become Scotland's next First Minister as the prime minister attempts to heal the growing divide over a no-deal Brexit. Picture: John Devlin

While visiting the Faslane nuclear submarine base yesterday, Mr Johnson said he was “totally with Ruth in her political ambitions”. “I hope she succeeds here in Scotland and I will certainly do all I can to assist her,” he said.

Mr Johnson added: “I have a very good relationship with Ruth ... I’m with Ruth very much. She has been a fantastic leader of the Scottish Conservatives. I’m lost in admiration of what she has achieved. I’m a massive fan of the way she has taken the argument to those who would destroy our Union and constitution and damage a global brand that is loved and admired and recognised around the world.

“I’m with Ruth in wanting to avoid a no-deal Brexit. We are aiming for a new deal and that’s what we can achieve with goodwill on all sides, but it’s been government policy for a while to prepare for no deal.”

In a statement issued after their meeting, Ms Davidson said: “The Prime Minister and I spoke about our shared determination to strengthen the Union and to make the case against Nicola Sturgeon’s plans for a second referendum on independence.

“We also discussed the many ways the UK government can work in Scotland, for Scotland, to boost our economy and support key Scottish businesses.

“On Brexit, the Prime Minister has made clear the government’s preference is to leave the European Union with a deal. I back him wholeheartedly in that aim.”

Asked about his poor personal poll ratings in Scotland compared to England, Mr Johnson said if he “worried about polls he wouldn’t be doing his job”.

He said: “I think there is a campaign to destroy the Union – it is represented by the Scottish Nationalist Party. I think that my ambitions to take the UK out of the EU ... clearly they contradict the ambitions of the SNP and I think that their policies are entirely nonsensical.

“As far as I can make out, they would literally want the population of Scotland to be using the euro, to be handing back control of Scottish fish to the fisheries council in Brussels and I reject that.”

Mr Johnson’s visit to Scotland did not include any public events.