Boris Johnson to visit Scotland amid ‘panic’ over independence

Boris Johnson is expected to make his first visit to Scotland since the start of the Coronavirus crisis this week amid reports that the UK Government is in “panic mode” over strong polling in favour of Scottish independence.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street on coronavirus this week
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street on coronavirus this week

The Prime Minister will highlight economic support from the UK Treasury during the crisis, with the government in London subsidising the wages of nearly a third of the Scottish workforce.

It comes as polling suggests the independence campaign has a lead of as much as 10%, with the SNP predicted to win an unprecedented majority at next year’s Scottish Parliament elections.

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Mr Johnson’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has also cost him support, with his net approval rating on the crisis lagging 99% behind that of Nicola Sturgeon.

This week he denied his personal standing was a threat to Union. But a Cabinet source told the Sunday Times: “Michael [Gove] is in panic mode about the Union and Boris is in irritated mode."

The Press and Journal reported that Lord McInnes, the director of the Scottish Conservative Party, will brief the Cabinet this week alongside polling guru James Kanagasooriamm, who worked on the party’s successful 2016 Holyrood campaign.

In October, a senior Whitehall source warned of complacency in Downing Street over the risk of rising support for Scottish independence, telling the Scotsman: “There isn’t nearly enough panic.”

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