PM supports devolution
Johnson says SNP’s record ‘abysmal’ and calls for unity
Boris Johnson speaking to the Tory conference today
Boris Johnson today dismissed claims that he had described devolution as a disaster and said his comments were aimed at the SNP’s handling of it.
The Prime Minister said there was “no room for division” and appealed for the two governments to work together to ensure devolution worked for Scotland.
Speaking to the Scottish Conservative conference via a virtual link, he said: “I know my comments on devolution have been widely reported this past week, but since no press were in the room, I’ll tell it to you straight: the way the SNP have handled devolution in Scotland has been a disaster – from plummeting education standards, low business confidence and the lowest satisfaction in public services ever – their record is abysmal.
“The key is to have policies to show how devolution can work for Scotland, rather than the SNP obsession with making devolution work against the rest of the UK.
“However, just because I criticise devolved performance, does not mean I want to end or undermine devolution.”
At this time there simply no room for division or distraction over the constitution– Boris Johnson
He added: “As a former Mayor of London, I know how effective devolved powers can be, for example in making transport greener and in tackling crime; devolution should not be used by politicians as a wall to break an area of the UK away from the rest, it should be used as a step, to pass power down to local communities and businesses to make their lives better.
“It is this localism in which I believe and want to further, following the agreement made at the time of the Smith Commission in 2016 to not only devolve more powers to Edinburgh, which we have done, but devolve more powers from Edinburgh to the councils and communities across Scotland.
“However, at this time there simply no room for division or distraction over the constitution.
“In order for us to tackle the shared and common threat that is Covid-19, the focus separation must end – and for it to end, so must the division.
“So I would like to thank the Scottish Government for the way it has worked with the UK Government to try and tackle this virus over these past months and appeal to them to continue working with us, making use of the vaccine stocks, tests kits and new technology that come from being part of what is still one of the world’s leading scientific superpowers.
“Covid-19 doesn’t care about constitutions and whatever our political differences, we all need to work together at this time to protect the health and jobs of people in Scotland.
“And from our UK test and trace labs to supporting struggling businesses, working together is what we are doing.
“That must be everyone’s priority right now.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak backed up the unionist message by referring to the billions the Treasury has poured in to support Scotland through the pandemic.
“Controlling this virus and supporting those who have been affected by it is a collective endeavour, one that we all have a role in,” he said.
“The enduring principle that when we come together as one United Kingdom, we can achieve far more than we do as four separate nations.”