Downing Street deny crisis-hit Union Unit has been scrapped

Downing Street have denied the crisis-hit Union Unit has been scrapped.Downing Street have denied the crisis-hit Union Unit has been scrapped.
Downing Street have denied the crisis-hit Union Unit has been scrapped.
Downing Street has denied the crisis-hit Union Unit has been scrapped.

Reports emerged on Wednesday night suggesting the leaderless group based in Downing Street had been abolished, with a new committee set up.

It was claimed the UK Government instead would run a new cabinet committee to focus on the union, chaired by Boris Johnson.

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Despite claims this means the end of the Union Unit, The Scotsman understands it will continue and work alongside the new group.

Renamed the Cabinet Union Strategy Committee, it will "set the government's strategic agenda" for keeping the UK together.

Michael Gove and the Chancellor Rishi Sunak will also play apart, along with the secretaries for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost.

The PM’s official spokesman insisted the new committee was an addition, not a replacement.

He said: “Number 10 officials continue to work in the Union Unit and the PM’s Union Strategy Committee that we’ve announced builds on top of that and adds to the existing structures that we have in place.

“It demonstrates our commitment to the Union, and the focus the PM has.

“We want to make sure that all four parts of the UK benefit.”

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Downing Street says all that matters is 'what Scots feel' after Union Unit boss ...

The meetings will be attended by just two Scots, and when asked today if Douglas Ross or Ruth Davidson will be invited to attend the new Union Strategy Committee meetings,

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Number 10 could only insist the group will be joined by "other ministers when appropriate".

It is understood while the group currently lacks a leader following the resignation of Oliver Lewis, it will still continue and remains a core focus for the PM.

The Vote Leave veteran quit last week amid claims his position was made “untenable” by others in Number 10.

The former ally of Mr Johson had only just started the role following the exit of former Scottish Conservative MP Luke Graham earlier this month.

Downing Street this week insisted all that matters is “what's felt on the ground by the Scottish people” when asked about disarray in the Unit.

It comes as the PM said he could not see the point of a having a referendum on Scottish independence, “at any time in the foreseeable future” while the UK is fighting the pandemic.

He added: “I do not see the virtue, value or utility of having a referendum at any time in the foreseeable future, particularly when we have to defeat Covid and take our country forward.”

Responding to the initial reports, the SNP's Westminster Deputy leader Kirsten Oswald MP claimed it was “utterly humiliating” for the PM.

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She said: "The only thing his failed Union Unit has delivered has been a sacking, a resignation and now its reported collapse within a matter of weeks.

"The entire shambolic episode is the perfect analogy for the Tory government's undemocratic anti-independence stance - crumbling under the first sign of any pressure.

"The reality is that no amount of rebranding or merging can take away from the fact the Tories' are in turmoil and their anti-independence campaign in disarray.

"However, the reported collapse raises serious questions over how much of the taxpayers' money Boris Johnson has wasted on the Union Unit - with the public footing the bill for the six figure salaries of a number of advisors.”

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