PM heads north
Johnson visits Scotland to talk up union benefits
Boris Johnson: mutual co-operation
Boris Johnson will visit Scotland today and will say that Westminster’s support for all parts of the UK during the pandemic shows the strength of the union.
Ahead of his controversial trip Mr Johnson said collaboration among the four nations had helped to save lives and livelihoods.
He added that UK Government’s provision of financial packages had been vital to support Scottish businesses.
In a statement, he said: “The great benefits of co-operation across the whole of the UK have never been clearer than since the beginning of this pandemic.
“Mutual co-operation across the UK throughout this pandemic is exactly what the people of Scotland expect and it is what I have been focused on.
“The people of the UK have stood together during this pandemic – from our doctors and nurses in our hospitals to our shop workers, scientists, lorry drivers and teachers. Working together as one truly United Kingdom is the best way to build our Covid recovery.”
He said: “We have pulled together to defeat the virus, providing £8.6 billion to the Scottish Government to support public services whilst also protecting the jobs of more than 930,000 citizens in Scotland.
“We have a vaccine programme developed in labs in Oxford being administered across the United Kingdom by our armed forces, who are helping to establish 80 new vaccine centres across Scotland.
“That’s how we are delivering for the people of Scotland so we can ensure the strongest possible recovery from the virus.”
He will remind Scots that as well as financial support, the British army is helping at 80 vaccine centres.
But Mr Johnson’s visit has drawn criticism at a time when the public are being ordered not to travel. Some claim his visit is less to do with the pandemic and more about campaigning ahead of the Scottish elections in May.
During her coronavirus briefing, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged Mr Johnson to think twice about his Scottish visit, branding it “non-essential”.
She said there should not be different rules for the public and politicians.
She said: “I would say me travelling from Edinburgh to Aberdeen to visit a vaccination centre right now is not essential, and Boris Johnson travelling from London to wherever he is [going] in Scotland to do the same is not essential.
“I am not and never would be saying that Boris Johnson is not welcome in Scotland – he’s the Prime Minister of the UK.
“But we’re living in a global pandemic right now. Every day I look down the camera and say ‘don’t travel unless it is really essential, work from home if you possibly can’ and that has to apply to all of us.
“We have a duty to lead by example and if we are going to suggest that we don’t take these rules as seriously as we should, it gets harder to convince other people. That’s why I’m perhaps not ecstatic about the thought of the Prime Minister visiting.”