Boris Johnson arrived in Orkney earlier this morning on his first visit to Scotland since his general election victory in December
The Prime Minister will plead with Scots to stay as part of the union on a visit to Scotland on Thursday, claiming that the “sheer might” of the United Kingdom has been demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After landing at Kirkwall Airport, he headed to the first in a series of engagements.
Boris Johnson’s first trip to the country this year comes after polls have shown an increased support for Scottish independence in the recent months, with some saying that Mr Johnson is in “full-blown panic mode” about the threat.
Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, has stood firm on the issue, tweeting on Thursday that the country has the right to decide its own future.
This comes after ministers reportedly “did not want to know” if Russia had meddled in the EU referendum vote, an MP says, as the government dismisses an investigation.
Scotland’s first minister has said she shares the sentiment of a cartoon in The Times which depicts the fragile state of the union, as the prime minister visits Scotland on Thursday.
The image shows Boris Johnson offering to help Nicola Sturgeon while running across a set of crumbling stones in the shape of “the union”.
In a reference to Scottish independence, the cartoon shows Ms Sturgeon standing still and replying “you are helping” to the Conservative leader’s desperate attempts to come to Scotland’s aid.
The leader of the Scottish Conservatives, as well as the MSP for Eastwood, Jackson Carlaw, has criticised Nicola Sturgeon for being “obsessed” with gaining independence for Scotland.
Mr Carlaw retweeted a post that Nicola Sturgeon had written on the issue on Thursday, making the comment “there she blows again” on Twitter.
He went on say that Scotland had decided its future by voting against independence in its 2014 referendum on independence.
The Member of Scottish Parliament also claimed that the union strengthened Scotland by protecting jobs there.
It has been suggested that the Conservative government has appeared to claim credit for Scotland’s coronavirus response, writes Jon Stone.
Secretary for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, has said today that the Prime Minister was ultimately in charge and that the devolved governments and first ministers were just “part of the decision we were making”.
However, devolved authorities have largely managed their own coronavirus responses since lockdown.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have much lower COVID-19 death rates than England.
The Westminster leader for the SNP, Ian Blackford, has said that the Prime Minister’s message to Scotland on today about the strength of the union will not be well-received.
On his visit to the country today, Boris Johnson is assumed to say that the “sheer might” of the United Kingdom has been shown in the union’s collective response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In response, Mr Blackford told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
“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?” he added.