Boris Johnson is set to visit Scotland where he will emphasise the strength of the UK working together against the Covid.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to visit Scotland where he will emphasise the strength of the UK working together in the fight against Covid.
Boris Johnson to visit Scotland.
The PM is visiting as calls for another Scottish independence referendum grow. The SNP have described the move as the prime minister panicking with opinion polls revealing declining support for the union.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called his trip non-essential. Asked at her daily Covid briefing on Wednesday how she felt about the visit while strict travel restrictions were in place, Sturgeon replied she was “not ecstatic” about it. She argued that leaders should follow the same rules that they seton the public, adding that she had refused to visit a vaccine centre in Aberdeen for this reason herself.
On the other hand, Downing Street have said that it was important for the prime minister to be “visible and accessible” across the whole of the UK during the Covid crisis.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said it was “only right” that Boris Johnson visited those on the frontline of the vaccine rollout to ensure that it is working effectively.
The PM has visited other essential sites in the UK’s pandemic response, such as the Wrexham plant making the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and therefore the trip is essential.
Ahead of his trip, Boris Johnson 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 £8.6bn 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 UK 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.”
Vaccine company Valneva has also begun manufacturing in Livingston, Scotland, and is expected to deliver 60 million doses to the UK by the end of the year, if it is approved.
The SNP revealed an 11-point “roadmap to a referendum” on Scottish independence on Sunday. This outlines how the party intends to move forward its plan for another vote having already lost what it called a “once in a generation” plebiscite in 2014. It says a “legal referendum” will be held following the end of the pandemic if there is a pro-independence majority at Holyrood following May’s election and it says it will “vigorously oppose” any legal challenge from Westminster.
The PM has regularly stated his opposition to a referendum, and has suggested that another one should not be held for 40 years. Opposition parties have accused Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP of putting the petty politics and a push for independence ahead of the Covid pandemic.