PM's visit to Scotland
Johnson accused of ‘panic’ over independence support
Boris Johnson will seek to shore up the union
Boris Johnson will today argue that the measures used to fight the coronavirus help prove the case for the union.
Amid claims that he is in “panic mode” over rising support for independence, the Prime Minister will use a visit to Scotland to stress how UK taxpayers have supported 900,000 Scottish workers who have been furloughed.
The Holyrood government has been handed a £4.6bn funding boost through the Barnett Formula, he will say.
Mr Johnson will meet armed forces workers and announce that Westminster will match the Scottish Government’s £50 million growth fund for Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed yesterday that there was no plan for her to meet the Prime Minister.
Ahead of his visit, Mr Johnson said: “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.
“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.”
He will say the £50m funding package for islands is the latest in a series of “city and region deals” which see the Scottish and UK governments each pledge cash to various areas for spending on new infrastructure and local development schemes.”
At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said Mr Johnson was visiting Scotland “in a panic” over recent polls pointing to a rise in support for independence.
He said: “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.”
Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard said: “The Prime Minister must use his visit to Scotland to listen and not to lecture.
“He must concentrate on jobs, the economy, public health – rather than getting involved in constitutional jibes.
“Now more than ever, Scotland needs both governments to co-operate to tackle the crises which we face. We need a massive fiscal stimulus at a UK level and we need an extension of the job retention scheme.”