Gove tells LBC PM's trip to Scotland is about Covid jab rollout, not independence

28 January 2021, 08:27

Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

The Prime Minister's trip to Scotland is centred on the vaccine rollout and has nothing to do with concerns about increased support for Scottish independence, Michael Gove has told LBC.

The Cabinet Office secretary defended Boris Johnson's journey as "necessary" following warnings from first minister Nicola Sturgeon that it was "not essential".

He said the visit was "as part of the efforts that the Prime Minister and all ministers make to make sure that they're fully informed in the fight against this virus".

Read more: Boris Johnson to visit Scotland despite Sturgeon warning his trip is "not essential"

"When the Prime Minister visits Oxford or Manchester," he added, "he's doing so in order to ensure that we learn from those on the frontline.

"Politicians are sometimes entirely legitimately criticised for being detached and living in ivory towers in Whitehall. Sometimes it's appropriate for all of us to roll up our sleeves and get there on the frontline."

Mr Johnson will use the visit to argue that the Union has been integral in administering the coronavirus vaccine, providing Covid testing and giving economic support north of the border during the pandemic.

Ahead of the controversial trip, he spoke about the "great benefits of co-operation" that the Union has brought while dealing with the coronavirus crisis, which has claimed more than 100,000 lives in the UK.

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The tour was announced just days after the Scottish National Party (SNP) laid out an '11-point roadmap' to secure independence ahead of the Holyrood elections later this year.

But Mr Gove denied the trip was being used to counter the pro-independence narrative, suggesting there would be an "overwhelming focus" on ensuring the vaccine "can be effective as possible".