Boris Johnson's visit to Scotland is 'not essential', Nicola Sturgeon says

27 January 2021, 19:50 | Updated: 27 January 2021, 20:18

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Nicola Sturgeon has said she is "not ecstatic" about Boris Johnson visiting Scotland on Thursday as it is not an "essential" journey.

The Scottish First Minister said there cannot be one rule for the public and another for leaders and politicians during the coronavirus pandemic.

Her comments came ahead of the prime minister's planned trip north of the border the following day.

However, Ms Sturgeon stressed she does not want people thinking her comments mean Mr Johnson is not welcome in Scotland.

But, under current Scottish Government rules, only people making essential journeys between England and Scotland are allowed to enter the nation.

Similar regulations are also in place to stop travel across council boundaries within Scotland.

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Nicola Sturgeon said the prime minister's journey to Scotland is "not essential"
Nicola Sturgeon said the prime minister's journey to Scotland is "not essential". Picture: PA

Speaking at the Scottish Government's coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon said: "I would say me travelling from Edinburgh to Aberdeen to visit a vaccination centre right now is not essential, and Boris Johnson travelling from London to wherever he is in Scotland to do the same is not essential.

"If we're asking other people to abide by that, then I'm sorry but it's probably incumbent on us to do likewise.

"I am not and never would be saying that Boris Johnson is not welcome in Scotland - he's the Prime Minister of the UK.

"We're living in a global pandemic right now.

"Every day I look down the camera and say... don't travel unless it's really essential, work from home if you possibly can.

"We have a duty to lead by example and if we are going to suggest that we don't take these rules as seriously as we should, it gets harder to convince other people.

"That's why I'm perhaps not ecstatic about the thought of the Prime Minister visiting, it's not because he's not welcome."

When asked if she believes Mr Johnson's visit would break any laws in Scotland, she said: "I'm sure he and his advisers will take great care to make sure he isn't breaking any laws, I take that as read.

"But we all need to make judgments on what we genuinely think is essential right now."

A spokeswoman for the PM said: "It remains the fact that it is a fundamental role of the prime minister to be the physical representative of the UK Government, and it's right he's visible and accessible to businesses and communities across all parts of the UK - especially during the pandemic."

When asked about the visit in the House of Commons by SNP MP Neale Hanvey - who described the move as "futile Union Jackery" - Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: "The prime minister is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and wherever he needs to go in his vital work against this pandemic, he will go."

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