SNP accuses Boris Johnson of treating Scotland like it is ‘too wee, too poor or too stupid’ to cope on its own as the PM visits north of the border to tell them being part of the Union saved 900,000 Scottish jobs during coronavirus crisis
- Boris Johnson visiting Scotland today for first time since 2019 general election
- He said being part of UK saved 900,000 Scottish jobs during coronavirus crisis
- SNP’s Ian Blackford accused PM of treating Scotland like it is ‘stupid’ and ‘poor’
The SNP today accused Boris Johnson of treating Scotland like it is ‘too wee, too poor or too stupid’ to cope on its own as the Prime Minister claimed being part of the Union saved 900,000 Scottish jobs during the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Johnson will today visit Scotland for the first time since the general election last December and he said overnight that the ‘sheer might of our union has been proven once again’ by the pandemic.
However, his words have sparked Scottish nationalist fury as the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford suggested the PM viewed Scotland as a minor partner in the United Kingdom.
The row comes after a number of recent opinion polls showed that support for Scottish independence is now more popular than staying part of the UK.
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, will visit Scotland today for the first time since the 2019 general election
The PM will claim that being part of the Union had saved 900,000 Scottish jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. But the SNP’s Ian Blackford accused the PM of treating Scotland like it is ‘too stupid’ to cope on its own
During his visit today, Mr Johnson is due to meet with businesses hit by the coronavirus outbreak, those working in green energy and military personnel to thank them for their efforts in the response to the deadly outbreak.
However, in a sign of growing tensions between Downing Street and Holyrood, there are no plans for Mr Johnson to meet with SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Ms Sturgeon said yesterday that she would be willing to meet with the Prime Minister.
Speaking ahead of the visit, Mr Johnson said: ‘When I stood on the steps of Downing Street one year ago, I pledged to be a Prime Minister for every corner of the United Kingdom.
‘Whether you are from East Kilbride or Dumfries, Motherwell or Paisley, I promised to level up across Britain and close the opportunity gap.
‘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.’
However, a claim by Mr Johnson that being part of the UK saved 900,000 Scottish jobs during the pandemic has provoked the ire of the SNP.
Ian Blackford said he did not believe that Mr Johnson’s message about Scotland’s apparent dependence on the Union during the coronavirus crisis would be well received during his visit.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: ‘I think he’s going to find that this message is going to go down particularly badly in Scotland.
‘Is he really saying that any other small nation in Europe and any other part of the world doesn’t have the capability to deal with the Covid crisis?
‘I think the days of telling Scotland that we are either too wee, too poor or too stupid really is over.
‘I think what we’ve demonstrated over the past two months in the areas of devolved responsibility and of public health is that the leadership that has been shown by our First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon) is in sharp contrast with the bluster we have seen from Boris Johnson.’
As well as the jobs claim, Mr Johnson has today pledged £50 million for Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles to develop the economy of the islands as part of a growth deal.
The Scottish Government said it will invest the same amount in the islands, meaning every area in Scotland will now receive funding from the joint UK and Scottish government initiatives.
Nicola Sturgeon had offered to meet with Mr Johnson during today’s visit but a sit down with the First Minister has not been scheduled
The Prime Minister’s visit, coming as he prepares for his one year anniversary in Downing Street, comes after a surge in poll support for Scottish independence in recent months.
Two Panelbase surveys recently reported that 54 per cent of respondents would like to see Scotland split from the UK.
The same polls predicted the SNP will win a majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament at next year’s election.
Scotland voted against becoming an independent nation by 55 per cent to 45 per cent at a referendum in 2014.
Ms Sturgeon has called for a repeat of the poll to be held this year but Mr Johnson is adamant he will not allow another referendum to go ahead.