Indyref2: Boris Johnson says 'six years is not a generation'
The Prime Minister rejected claims that he was the biggest danger to the United Kingdom as he ruled out granting approval for a second independence referendum if the SNP triumph at next year’s Holyrood elections.
Responding to Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross’s conference speech, in which he said the case for independence was “being made in London rather than Edinburgh” and told his party’s MPs to “look in the mirror" if they didn’t like his criticism about their attitudes to Scotland’s place in the UK, Boris Johnson denied the remarks were directed at him.
Asked about the speech on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show Mr Johnson said: “I think he was talking about those who don’t value the union in the way that I do.
“I think that the union is one of the great achievements of this country, and its value, its use has been amply demonstrated through this crisis, not just in the way the armed services have helped deliver the tests around the country but the financial support which has been delivered by HMT [Treasury].”
Mr Johnson has been criticised for too few visits to Scotland since becoming Prime Minister and at Conservative Party Conference on Saturday Mr Ross had “called out unionist defeatism and disinterest”.
Today he added: “To any colleagues annoyed at hearing what I said yesterday, take a look in the mirror and answer the question I posed – which side are you on? If I’m wrong about the defeatism and disinterest in the Union, then prove it. Let’s hear that the Union comes first.”
He said too many people believed Scotland “will somehow be independent soon but they don’t look at the SNP’s record” and pointed to educational standards slipping down international league tables.
“Of course the SNP are formidable… but they can be stopped next year.”
Pressed on the issue, including whether his Brexit policy was driving Scotland and England apart, Mr Johnson said leaving the EU was a “huge opportunity” for Scotland. He pointed to the controversial Internal Markets Bill which he said “involved the devolution of substantial powers to Scotland, not least over fish”.
He added: “It’s incredible to me the Scottish Nationalist Party [sic] should actually be supporting a policy of handing back fisheries to Brussels, abandoning the future prospects of young people growing up in Scotland.”
On a potential referendum should the SNP win a majority at next year’s elections, Mr Johnson repeated his predecessor Theresa May’s rhetoric, and said: “This is not the time for another referendum.”
He said the UK had to “build back” from coronavirus and added: “We were told it was a once in a generation event and six years does not seem to me to be a generation.”
However SNP Depute Leader Keith Brown said: “No matter how much Boris Johnson blusters - and that's an awful lot - he knows his anti-democratic position on a second independence referendum is simply unsustainable. He cannot stand in the way of the democratic right of the people of Scotland to decide our own future.”
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