Boris Johnson will tell Scotland 'sheer might of the Union' has saved it 900,000 jobs

23 July 2020, 05:55

Boris Johnson will arrive in Scotland on Thursday, ahead of the one year anniversary of his first day in Downing Street on Friday
Boris Johnson will arrive in Scotland on Thursday, ahead of the one year anniversary of his first day in Downing Street on Friday. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The UK has shown its "sheer might" during the Covid-19 crisis, the Prime Minister has said ahead of a visit to Scotland.

Boris Johnson is set to spend time in Scotland on Thursday where he will say that being part of the UK saved 900,000 Scottish jobs during the pandemic.

His comments will come after Inverness MP Drew Hendry of the SNP said Scotland could flourish as an independent country.

During his visit, the PM will meet with businesses impacted by the pandemic as well as those working in green energy, and military personnel to thank them for their efforts during the crisis.

Ahead of the visit, the Prime Minister said: "When I stood on the steps of Downing Street one year ago, I pledged to be a Prime Minister for every corner of the United Kingdom. Whether you are from East Kilbride or Dumfries, Motherwell or Paisley, I promised to level up across Britain and close the opportunity gap.

"The last six months have shown exactly why the historic and heartfelt bond that ties the four nations of our country together is so important and the sheer might of our union has been proven once again."

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: "I welcome the PM to Scotland today. One of the key arguments for independence is the ability of Scotland to take our own decisions, rather than having our future decided by politicians we didn't vote for, taking us down a path we haven't chosen. His presence highlights that."

There are no plans for Mr Johnson to meet with the First Minister, who said at her regular coronavirus briefing on Wednesday that she would be willing to meet with the Prime Minister.

Mr Johnson has pledged £50 million for Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles to develop the economy of the islands as part of a growth deal.

The Scottish Government said it will invest the same amount in the islands, meaning every area in Scotland will now receive funding from the joint UK and Scottish government initiatives.

The Prime Minister's visit comes after a surge in support for Scottish independence in recent months, according to polls, with two Panelbase surveys reporting 54% of respondents would like to see Scotland split from the UK.

The same polls predicted the SNP will win a majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament at next year's election.

Then prime minister David Cameron agreed to stage the independence vote in 2014 after the SNP won a majority at Holyrood in the 2011 election, however, Mr Johnson has repeatedly ruled out another referendum.

Ahead of Thursday's visit, the Prime Minister praised the work of the armed forces in running mobile coronavirus testing centres in Scotland and providing air transfers support.

He added: "The UK Treasury stepped in to save the jobs of a third of Scotland's entire workforce and kept the wolves at bay for tens of thousands of Scottish businesses.

"More than ever, this shows what we can achieve when we stand together, as one United Kingdom."