Downing Street insists Boris Johnson ‘speaks for majority of Scots’ as PM labelled ‘biggest threat’ to Union
Downing Street has insisted Boris Johnson “speaks for the majority of Scots” on the same day he was labelled the “biggest threat” to the Union.
The Prime Minister was said to be a fierce advocate of devolution just 24 hours after saying the process was a “disaster” and Tony Blair's "biggest mistake".
His comments have been seized upon by opposition parties, with Liberal Democrats’ Alister Carmichael accusing him of being “reckless”.
Asked about the PM’s comments, his official spokesman insisted: "This government continues to put the union at the heart of all that we do.”
He continued: "Now more than ever is the time for the United Kingdom to be pulling together to focus on defeating this virus.
"The PM has been clear that he thinks the four corners of the UK are stronger together and he will be the voice of the majority of Scottish people who voted decisively to keep the UK together, and he will always stand against those trying to separate the United Kingdom.”
Mr Johnson’s spokesman claimed the PM supported devolution and was actually increasing powers to Scotland.
He said: "If you look at what's actually happening in terms of Scottish devolution, there will be a power surge to Edinburgh at the end of the transition period, as vast powers return to them from Brussels."
Mr Johnson’s comments have sparked a fierce backlash, with Mr Carmichael even saying he should go.
Mr Carmichael said: “The Prime Minister and the Tories are the single biggest threat to the future of the United Kingdom. Boris Johnson’s policies have been destructive and his attitude has been reckless.
“Claiming to be ‘Minister for the Union’ is like a fox declaring himself Minister for the Henhouse.
“If he truly cares about the unity of our country, then he should pass on the job to someone who understands and cares about devolution.”
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross had earlier insisted the PM supported devolution, and his comments were instead a critique of the SNP.
He said: “It is not devolution that is at the heart of all the failures that we are experiencing in Scotland. It is the SNP administration, who have not used their 13-and-a-half years in power in charge of all these policy ideas to improve the lives of individuals and families right across the country.
“I wasn’t in the meeting, I haven’t seen a read out of it, but I’m seeing from the Scottish Conservative point of view and I believe the Prime Minister supports devolution.
“It was in the Conservative manifesto for the election last year.”
Earlier a Cabinet minister denied the Prime Minister considered devolution to have been "a disaster", but stressed he was "very troubled" by Scottish nationalists' attempts to split up the United Kingdom.
UK Business Secretary Robert Jenrick told BBC Breakfast: "I also think, frankly, that any politician who wanted to hold a referendum on a topic like this at this moment in time … is frankly, mad.
"We're in the middle of a very serious health situation, a pandemic, and we're also seeing massive disruption to people's lives and livelihoods as a result of the economic disruption that's flowed with it."
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