On the second day of his visit to Scotland Boris Johnson said his focus was on economic recovery post-pandemic, as well as preparations for the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow this November, and refused to be drawn on whether he agreed a second referendum should take place it if was the “settled will” of Scots, as suggested by his Cabinet colleague Michael Gove.
He also compared the transition from oil and gas fuels to renewables to the closure of the coal mines by Margaret Thatcher and heralded the potential of Scottish wind as “incredible”.
Speaking to journalists while aboard the Esvagt Alba after a visit to the Moray East offshore windfarm, Mr Johnson was pressed on the possibility of a second referendum, and said: "I think the priority for our country as a whole is bouncing back together, working our way forwards from this pandemic together, and I think the opportunities are absolutely phenomenal.
"The emphasis, I think, has got to be on economic recovery and I think constitutional change, it's not top of my agenda, let me put it that way."
He added: "My view is that the priority is bouncing back strongly from Covid, working together on that, continuing to deliver the vaccine, and by the way, delivering on the other top priorities of the British people.
"Yesterday I was in Glasgow talking to people from agencies across the whole of the UK who are involved in fighting county lines drugs gangs. You can see the way the UK has to work together to do this.
"There are there are a huge number of things that we need to do together and that's what I want to focus on."
Mr Johnson said he “looked forward” to continuing to work with the Scottish Government and to support it through the pandemic. “That's the priority the British people seem focused on from where I sit,” he said. “I think that Scotland has done outstandingly well with its vaccination programme… and what we want to see is converting the vaccination programme into a big jobs bounce back.
"That's what I'm focused on. And I'm sure everybody else will see the priority of that.
"The focus should be on economic recovery and constitutional change is about as far from the top of my agenda as it is possible to be."
Earlier, the SNP's Westminster leader, Ian Blackford MP, said: "The SNP Government’s focus has been on tackling the pandemic. As we look to recover from the health crisis, it's clear that Scotland is vulnerable under Westminster control as the Tory government looks to inflict another decade of austerity, prematurely end Covid support schemes, prepares to scrap the £20 Universal Credit uplift, and refuses to bring forward a meaningful investment-led package to secure a strong recovery from the pandemic.
“The people of Scotland must have the choice of a better future. In May's Scottish elections, the SNP was returned to Government with a cast-iron mandate to hold a post-pandemic referendum – and Boris Johnson’s attempts to deny democracy are unsustainable.
“It’s clear beyond any doubt that the only way to protect our interests and secure a strong and fair recovery from the pandemic is to become an independent country.”
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