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Boris Johnson holds Brexit talks with Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland

Boris Johnson is running the Brexit gauntlet in Scotland today as Nicola Sturgeon demanded a fresh independence referendum ahead of showdown talks.

Mr Johnson is continuing the frantic start to his premiership by heading north of the border, as he kicks off a UK tour that will also see him visit Wales and Northern Ireland this week.

He promised to renew ‘the ties that bind our United Kingdom’ as he unveiled plans to release £300million for ‘growth deals’.

But he is facing fraught talks with Ms Sturgeon and Scottish Tory chief Ruth Davidson, who have both vowed to oppose a No Deal Brexit.

Ms Sturgeon today accused him of wanting to crash out of the bloc, warning the outcome would be a ‘disaster’ and demanding Scotland be allowed to ‘chart its own course’.  

Protests are also being held in Glasgow ahead of his arrival, with opponents wielding posters of his face with the words: ‘No thanks.’  

The visit comes as Mr Johnson ramps up preparations for crashing out of the EU, after he solemnly vowed to take the UK out of the bloc by the end of October with or without a deal.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stepped up the rhetoric again today by warning that Brussels was ‘not the only game in town’ for trade pacts, saying he would be focusing on strengthening ties with the US, Asia and Latin America. 

He said the ‘stubborn’ EU would be to blame if the UK ends up crashing out. 

Mr Johnson will use today’s visit to attempt to reassure Tory supporters that the defence of the Union is a priority. 

Last week, Mr Johnson followed through on a symbolic pledge to add the responsibility ‘Minister for the Union’ to the Prime Minister’s official job title. 

Boris Johnson, pictured, will speak with Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland on Monday in the first stop on his tour of the UK which is mean to show his commitment to the Union

Boris Johnson, pictured, will speak with Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland on Monday in the first stop on his tour of the UK which is mean to show his commitment to the Union

Protests were held in Glasgow ahead of Mr Johnson's arrival, with opponents wielding posters of his face with the words: 'No thanks'

Protests were held in Glasgow ahead of Mr Johnson’s arrival, with opponents wielding posters of his face with the words: ‘No thanks’

Mr Johnson's motorcade arrived at the Clyde Naval Base, Faslane, this afternoon

Mr Johnson’s motorcade arrived at the Clyde Naval Base, Faslane, this afternoon

Ahead of his arrival in Scotland this afternoon he said: ‘Our Union is the most successful political and economic union in history. We are a global brand and together we are safer, stronger and more prosperous.

‘So as we prepare for our bright future after Brexit, it’s vital we renew the ties that bind our United Kingdom.

‘I’m proud to be in Scotland today to make clear that I am a passionate believer in our great Union, and I look forward to visiting Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure that every decision I make as Prime Minister promotes and strengthens our Union.’

In a letter to the new PM last week, the Scottish First Minister warned she would demand a second independence referendum if Mr Johnson pressed ahead with a No Deal Brexit. 

What will happen during the PM’s first months in power? 

Today: Boris Johnson is heading to Scotland, where he will pledge to protect the Union.

He will hold talks with Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson. 

Meanwhile in London the new Brexit ‘war Cabinet’ is meeting – albeit without the PM. 

August 1: Brecon and Radnorshire by-election. 

Tory candidate Chris Davies is seeking to regain the seat he was ousted from by a recall petition triggered in the wake of his conviction for submitting false expenses claims. If he fails, the new prime minister’s working majority in the Commons will be cut to just three. 

August 24: G7 Summit in Biarritz. The new prime minister’s first appearance at a major global summit. 

Donald Trump will be among the world leaders at the gathering, potentially providing the opportunity for a meeting with the controversial US president in an effort to highlight the importance of the special relationship and a future trade deal. 

September: The UN General Assembly meeting in New York will provide another opportunity for the new prime minister to appear on the global stage and set out their vision for the country’s place in the world. –

September 29 to October 2: Conservative Party Conference. 

The gathering in Manchester will be a key test of the new Tory leader’s ability to unite the party and provides a platform to use their closing speech to address the nation. 

October 17-18: EU summit. This is the last schedule meeting of EU leaders before the UK is due to leave the bloc – although an emergency gathering could be called before or afterwards.

October 31: The deadline for reaching a Brexit deal. 

Unless there is a further extension, this will be the UK’s last day as a member of the European Union and it will leave, with or without an agreement. 

And she said today: ‘The people of Scotland did not vote for this Tory Government, they didn’t vote for this new Prime Minister, they didn’t vote for Brexit and they certainly didn’t vote for a catastrophic no-deal Brexit which Boris Johnson is now planning for.’ 

She added: ‘Boris Johnson has formed a hard-line Tory Government with one aim – to take Scotland and the UK out of the EU without a deal. 

‘Scotland has been ignored throughout the Brexit process and it is now time for everyone who cares about the future of Scotland to come together to chart our own course and say to the Tories – stop driving our country towards disaster.’ 

The PM is having separate meetings with the First Minister and Ms Davidson this afternoon after visiting HM Naval Base Clyde in Argyll. 

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Ms Davidson said she could not support a No Deal Brexit in any circumstances, pointing out that she is under no obligation to sign up to his timetable of taking the UK out of the EU by October 31.

She said the PM had her ‘full support’ in pursuing a revised deal which could ensure an orderly exit from the EU. But she added: ‘Where I differ with the UK Government is on the question of a No Deal Brexit.

‘When I was debating against the pro-Brexit side in 2016, I don’t remember anybody saying we should crash out of the EU with no arrangements in place to help maintain the vital trade that flows uninterrupted between Britain and the European Union.

‘I don’t think the UK Government should pursue a No Deal Brexit, and if it comes to it, I won’t support it.’

Ms Davidson, who played a key role in persuading Theresa May that a No Deal Brexit posed a risk to the Union, is expected to repeat the message to Mr Johnson.

Mr Johnson will miss the first meeting of the Exit Strategy committee – known as XS – as he will be making a potentially awkward first visit to Scotland since becoming Prime Minister.

No-deal planning supremo Michael Gove will chair the XS committee in his absence and will also lead meetings of the Daily Operations Committee, covering all aspects of the Government’s preparations for leaving. 

Brussels is ‘not the only game in town’ for future trade deals, the Government has said, while insisting that the UK should prepare for a no-deal Brexit despite opposition.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that, while there are no ‘firm plans’ yet, the Government will be using Parliament’s summer recess to approach ‘growth markets’ in Asia, Latin America, and the US to push for future trade deals.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: ‘I haven’t set the firm plans yet, but that will include the US, Latin America, and Asia because the negotiation with the EU is crucially important and we would love to get a deal that is acceptable to the UK, but Brussels is not the only game in town.

‘The opportunities of Brexit involve many of those growth markets of the future from Latin America to Asia, and we have got a US President who is speaking very warmly about this country.’

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, pictured meeting the Queen last month, warned in a letter to the new PM she would demand a second independence referendum if Mr Johnson pressed ahead with a No Deal Brexit

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, pictured meeting the Queen last month, warned in a letter to the new PM she would demand a second independence referendum if Mr Johnson pressed ahead with a No Deal Brexit

The protests came as Mr Johnson ramped up his rhetoric on Brexit with three months to go until the UK is due to leave the EU

The protests came as Mr Johnson ramped up his rhetoric on Brexit with three months to go until the UK is due to leave the EU

He added: ‘We’ll keep straining every sinew if there is a deal to be done, but the EU will need to move and, if they don’t, it is incredibly important that we are ready for eventualities.’

He said the Government wants a good deal with the EU but that a ‘series of fairly stubborn positions staked out by the EU’ have made this difficult.

He said the Government has to be able to offer ‘finality’ for people by preparing for no-deal.

Brussels ‘not the only game in town’ for trade deal, says Raab 

Brussels is ‘not the only game in town’ for future trade deals, the Government has said, while insisting that the UK should prepare for a no-deal Brexit despite opposition.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that, while there are no ‘firm plans’ yet, the Government will be using Parliament’s summer recess to approach ‘growth markets’ in Asia, Latin America, and the US to push for future trade deals.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: ‘I haven’t set the firm plans yet, but that will include the US, Latin America, and Asia because the negotiation with the EU is crucially important and we would love to get a deal that is acceptable to the UK, but Brussels is not the only game in town.

‘The opportunities of Brexit involve many of those growth markets of the future from Latin America to Asia, and we have got a US President who is speaking very warmly about this country.’

He added: ‘We’ll keep straining every sinew if there is a deal to be done, but the EU will need to move and, if they don’t, it is incredibly important that we are ready for eventualities.’

He said the Government wants a good deal with the EU but that a ‘series of fairly stubborn positions staked out by the EU’ have made this difficult.

He said the Government has to be able to offer ‘finality’ for people by preparing for no-deal.

Asked how he would deal with opposition to no-deal in Scotland, Mr Raab said: ‘As unionists we are committed to respecting the democratic mandate of the referendum, which applied do the whole of the United Kingdom, and that was very clear.

‘We, of course though, need to make sure that we assure all sectors of the economy and all regions of the United Kingdom, which is why the Prime Minister is up in Scotland today in the first of a series of visits around the Union.’

He added: ‘The mandate certainly wasn’t to leave the EU if the EU let us, it was an in out referendum, and we made clear, those on the campaign, that we should strive for a good deal but, if that wasn’t available, that we should go on and make a success of Brexit.’ 

A study by the Institute for Government today warns that Mr Johnson would have to impose direct rule in Northern Ireland after a No Deal Brexit because of the scale of the decisions required to be taken in the province, where the power-sharing assembly is suspended.

Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill warned ministers this year that such a move could lead to demands for a referendum on Irish unification and another poll on Scottish independence.

Mr Johnson has insisted that Brexit will reduce support for Scottish nationalism as the SNP would have to accept the euro to join the EU.

Today’s £300million announcement will provide funding for ‘growth deals’ in a areas including Falkirk, Argyll and Bute, south-west Northern Ireland, the Causeway coast and mid-Wales. 

The money is for such things as housing, transport, training and green growth.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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