Boris Johnson urges Scottish nationalists to 'pull together' and make Britain better
Boris Johnson has urged Scottish nationalists to "pull together" and make Britain better.
Making his virtual conference speech at the Tory conference today, the Prime Minister accused Labour of “flirting” with ending the union and called for the SNP to end the “division”.
In an address that saw the PM suggest social distancing could end next year, Mr Johnson issued a defiant rally cry for unionism.
He said: “We believe passionately in our wonderful union, our United Kingdom, while the Labour opposition have done frankly nothing to defend the union and continue to flirt with those who would tear our country apart.“I say to those separatist Scottish nationalists who would like this country to be distracted and divided by yet more constitutional wrangling, now is the time to pull together and build back better in every part of the UK.”
In a wide-ranging speech, Mr Johnson also admitted things “cannot go back to normal” – but said the UK would succeed in fighting off the virus “just as this country has seen off every alien invader for the last thousand years”.
Despite this, the PM insisted next year social distancing would have ended, with conference back to normal.
He said: "We will ensure that next time we meet, it will be face to face and cheek by jowl.
"We're working for the day when life will be back for normal."
Mr Johnson claimed he was sick of the virus and vowed Britain would not let it “hold us back … even in the darkest moments”.
He continued: “I don’t know about you, but I have had more than enough of this disease that attacks not only human beings, but so many of the greatest things about our country - our pubs, our clubs, our football, our theatre and all the gossipy gregariousness and love of human contact that drives the creativity of our economy.
"I believe it's a measure of the greatness of this country that we will not let [Covid] hold us back, or get us down. We will build it back and build it better."
In a speech notable for lacking a single mention of Brexit, there were also a series of policy announcements.
These included offering 5 per cent mortgages to get young people on the housing ladder, and creating more jobs by driving the wind energy industry.
Mr Johnson also lashed out at claims that he wasn't fully recovered from Covid, labelling them "self-evident drivel" and "propaganda".
He offered to prove his health by suggesting "arm wrestling, leg wrestling, Cumberland wrestling, sprint off, you name it”, most of which are currently banned by his Government’s restrictions.
Labour claimed the speech was the "usual bluster", with deputy party leader Angela Rayner saying it offered "no plan for the months ahead".
The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford accused the PM of “arrogance” and claimed Mr Johnson was making a deliberate decision to allow unemployment to go up.
He added: "The Prime Minister offered absolutely nothing to the millions of people who stand to lose their jobs, and see their incomes slashed, as a result of Tory cuts to the furlough scheme and the reckless decision to impose an extreme Brexit in the middle of a pandemic”.
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