Johnson questions ‘the point’ of independence
Boris Johnson on a hospital visit in Glasgow
Boris Johnson today claimed “endless talk” about a referendum was irrelevant to the concerns of most people.
The Prime Minister used a visit to those working on the coronavirus frontline in Scotland to say the SNP failed to provide answers on the proposed Scottish state.
He also criticised the SNP’s record in government.
“I think endless talk about a referendum without any clear description of what the constitutional situation would be after that referendum is completely irrelevant now to the concerns of most people,” he said.
He added: “We don’t actually know what that referendum would set out to achieve.
“We don’t know what the point of it would be – what happens to the army, what happens to the Crown, what happens to the pound, what happens to the Foreign Office. Nobody will tell us what it’s all meant to be about.”
The Prime Minister was given a tour of the Lighthouse hub for PCR samples at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and later met soldiers setting up a vaccination centre in Castlemilk.
Mr Johnson was criticised for his trip north and he was reported to Police Scotland by those complaining that he broke the law by crossing the border.
The Scottish government has banned all non-essential travel and Mr Johnson’s opponents said his visit was non-essential.
Downing Street defended the visit as a “fundamental part of the Prime Minister’s job”.
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “We have received a small number of complaints regarding Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to Scotland.
“This is a working visit in his official capacity as Prime Minister and we are policing the event appropriately”.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said Mr Johnson wanted to thank frontline workers who were battling the virus.
Officials said the UK Government had delivered more than one million rapid lateral flow test kits to Scotland so far and is funding testing sites across the country – including seven drive-through centres, 27 walk-through sites and 21 mobile testing units, along with the Lighthouse Lab in Glasgow.
Westminster cash has provided 62% of testing kits in Scotland, Number 10 added.
Speaking ahead of his visit to Scotland, the Prime Minister said: “The great benefits of co-operation across the whole of the UK have never been clearer than since the beginning of this pandemic.
“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.
“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.”
Critics say the real purpose for Mr Johnson’s visit is not to be briefed on vaccinations, but to prop up the union in the face of polls putting the SNP on course for victory in May and in favour of a referendum on independence.
SNP depute leader Keith Brown said the PM’s trip was evidence that he was in a ‘panic’ about the prospect of another referendum.
The MSP said: “Clearly, Boris Johnson is rattled. By branding this campaign trip as ‘essential’, this is clearly a Prime Minister in panic, who knows the Tories are losing the argument on independence.
“Twenty polls in a row have shown that a majority of voters believe Scotland’s future should be in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s.”