Keir Starmer says Boris Johnson is a threat to the UK 'every time he opens his mouth'

18 November 2020, 15:38

Sir Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson clashed at PMQ on Wednesday
Sir Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson clashed at PMQ on Wednesday. Picture: PA Images

Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer traded stinging remarks at PMQs today following the Prime Minister's remarks on Scottish devolution.

Sir Keir Starmer blasted the Prime Minister for calling devolution "a disaster" and said he threatened the breakup of the UK "every time he opens his mouth".

Sir Keir labelled Mr Johnson the "single biggest threat" to the UK in a historic PMQs with the Prime Minister present on screen speaking from self-isolation.

Opening Prime Minister's Questions, Sir Keir described devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as "one of the proudest achievements of the last Labour government" as he pressed Mr Johnson on his comments.

The PM replied: "I think what has unquestionably been a disaster is the way in which the Scottish National Party have taken and used devolution as means not to improve the lives of their constituents, not to address their health concerns, not to improve education in Scotland, but constantly - and I know this is actually a point of view that is shared by (Sir Keir) - but constantly to campaign for the break-up of our country.

Read more: Boris Johnson angers Scottish nationalists after labelling devolution 'a disaster'

"To turn devolution, otherwise a sound policy for which I myself personally benefited when I was running London, but turn devolution into a mission to break up the UK.

"That, in my view, would be a disaster."

Sir Keir countered that "the single biggest threat to the future of the United Kingdom is the Prime Minister every time he opens his mouth".

He continued: "When the Prime Minister said he wanted to take back control nobody thought he meant from the Scottish people. The Prime Minister's quote is very clear - he said devolution has been a disaster north of the border."

Mr Johnson was roundly condemned by Scottish politicians - including Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross, who rejected what the PM has reportedly said as incorrect.

Watch again: Boris Johnson vs Keir Starmer at first ever virtual PMQs

The comments also angered Scottish nationalists and gave a boost to supporters of independence, who believe England treats Scotland with contempt.

Reacting to the remarks, first minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: "Bookmarking these PM comments for the next time Tories say they’re not a threat to the powers of the Scottish Parliament - or, even more incredibly, that they support devolving more powers.

"The only way to protect & strengthen [the Scottish Parliament] is with independence."