Boris Johnson has issued a warning to Scottish National Party leader, Nicola Sturgeon, saying that her effort to pursue independence at the cost of the union “has got to stop.”
During a speech to the Scottish Conservative Party virtual conference, BoJo said that now is not the time for “division or distraction about our national constitution.”
The prime minister also slammed what he described as the SNP’s “abysmal record” over the last 13 years of devolved administration, saying that in that time, Scotland has seen “plummeting education standards, low business confidence and the lowest satisfaction in public services ever.”
BoJo’s unusually terse comments come hot on the heels of another that he made just a few days ago in which he described Scottish devolution as a “disaster.”
🏴 Devolution has been a ‘disaster’ - for the Tories. It’s shown people in Scotland that we're more than capable of governing ourselves.
🗳 The only way to protect devolution, our Scottish Parliament, is to back independence.
✍️ Pledge your support: https://t.co/2gUjKuELTC pic.twitter.com/Pwp6Y5OBYy
Yet, despite Mr Johnson’s harsh words, support for the independence cause in Scotland continues to surge.
Recently, a poll by the pollster JL Partners found that 56% of Scots would now opt for Scotland charting its own course in the world as an independent nation, while 44% said they opposed such a move. According to one of those who oversaw the poll, James Johnson, pro-independence sentiment was being driven by a “loathing” for Boris Johnson among Scots. Furthermore, an Ipsos Mori poll found recently that support for Scottish independence has spiked to 58%.
Senior Tories in Scotland have vented their anger at what has been described as BoJo’s “loose language” over devolution, which remains a very popular form of governance among Scots. Leader Douglas Ross has suggested that the party could split from the Tories in England.
Amid the blowback, the Prime Minister tried to row back his comments at the virtual conference, saying that, “just because I have criticised the performance of devolution does not mean I want to oppose devolution as a concept. I'm a former mayor of London, I know how effective devolved powers can be.”
“The key is to have policies to show how devolution can work for Scotland, for the people in Scotland, rather than the SNP obsession with making devolution work against the rest of the UK,” he added.