BORIS Johnson today ruled out “pointless wrangling” over a second Scottish referendum – as he defended his visit after angry voters reported him to police.
The PM defended his visit north of the border, visiting in his “capacity as prime minister of the whole United Kingdom” after critics said it wasn’t an essential trip.
He insisted the people of Scotland doesn’t want to see us “getting lost in pointless constitutional wrangling” at a time of deep crisis.
Scots SNP boss Ms Sturgeon is set on holding another vote, just six years after the last one, but the PM vowed: “I am inclined to stick with what was said last time.”
He ordered her to instead focus on creating jobs, fighting crime and helping Scotland fight the ongoing covid pandemic.
The PM said: “My focus is on defeating the pandemic, that should be be the focus of everybody in this country.
“I believe in the power is doing things together – People want us to focus on the issues that really matter.”
The PM blasted the “completely irrelevant” discussion on independence at a time of deep crisis for the whole of the UK.
“You can see the contribution of Scottish scientists to the national efforts, and I don’t want to break that up,” he added.
Already people have reported him to police for making the trip in his official capacity of PM – but cops dismissed them and said they wouldn’t be investigating.
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We have received a small number of complaints regarding Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to Scotland.
“This is a working visit in his official capacity as Prime Minister and we are policing the event appropriately.”
The complaints came after the SNP ramped up their row with the PM over the visit – after Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday it was “not essential”.
Their SNP Twitter account put out a picture of him arriving, with the caption: “Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.”
MP Alyn Smith added: “Unless you’re Boris Johnson. This ill advised stunt will backfire badly.
But even Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer backed his trip – saying it was right the PM could see the situation on the ground.
And Jacob Rees-Mogg blasted Ms Sturgeon as “Moanalot”.
Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said this lunchtime: “It is a fundamental part of the Prime Minister’s job to go out and see businesses and communities and people.
“These are Covid-related visits. You’ve seen the Prime Minister do a number of them over the past few weeks.
“It is obviously important that he is continuing to meet and see those who are on the front line in terms of those who are providing tests, in terms of those who are working so hard to deliver the vaccination plan.”
This morning Michael Gove defended the trip, saying he was going to visit “those on the frontline responsible for the rollout of the vaccine.
And he took a swipe at Sturgeon for criticizing his visit, saying: “When the Prime Minister visits other parts of the United Kingdom, other political leaders don’t criticise him, indeed there is a welcome for the Prime Minister and other ministers who are rolling up their sleeves and are getting in touch with those on the ground who are making a difference.”
He told the BBC: “I think it’s right the PM goes to the frontline and learns from those who are responsible for the vaccine rollout and also make sure we do even better.
“That is part of the job of any leader to thank those who are making a difference in keeping us safe but also to hear direct and unvarnished what we can do to make it sure that the delivery is even better.”
And he promised it would be Covid-secure too, adding: “There will be no danger to anyone’s health as a result, in fact quite the opposite, what the Prime Minister will be doing is making sure that the vaccine roll-out in Scotland gets the full support of the UK Government.”
DON’T SPLIT THE UK
The PM will today argue the Union has saved countless lives and jobs during the Covid pandemic – as he takes direct aim at the SNP boss’s plan for ANOTHER divisive referendum.
He will say today: “The great benefits of cooperation across the whole of the UK have never been clearer than since the beginning of this pandemic.”
And the nation’s recovery from the virus will only be a success by “working together as one truly United Kingdom”, the PM will argue.
As Ms Sturgeon continues to battle to split up the UK, he will tell wavering Scots that one in three jobs North of the border has benefitted from the UK’s generous furlough and grant scheme over the last ten months.
Fresh figures show that 90,000 firms have been able to claim billions of pounds worth of vital support.
And every Scot will have gained a £1,600 dividend from the UK Government thanks to extra cash dished out to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to help fight the virus.
Nearly half a million people have been vaccinated in Scotland, with the British army drafted in to help set up 80 jab hubs.
And almost two thirds of tests were provided for by the UK, too, he will say.
In an impassioned defence of the union, the PM said tonight: “We have pulled together to defeat the virus, providing £8.6bn to the Scottish Government to support public services whilst also protecting the jobs of more than 930,000 citizens in Scotland.
“We have a vaccine programme developed in labs in Oxford being administered across the United Kingdom by our Armed Forces, who are helping to establish 80 new vaccine centres across Scotland. That’s how we are delivering for the people of Scotland so we can ensure the strongest possible recovery from the virus.”
Calling for Scotland to continue to stand side-by-side with the rest of the UK, he vowed: “Mutual cooperation across the UK throughout this pandemic is exactly what the people of Scotland expect and it is what I have been focussed on.
“The people of the UK have stood together during this pandemic: from our doctors and nurses in our hospitals to our shop workers, scientists, lorry drivers and teachers – working together as one truly United Kingdom is the best way to build our Covid recovery.”
PM TRIP ‘NON-ESSENTIAL’
The SNP claimed his trip was evidence of a “prime minister in panic” amid growing support for independence.
His trip sparked a furious row with Nicola Sturgeon tonight – as she said his trip wasn’t “essential” during lockdown.
Ms Sturgeon said she was “not ecstatic” about the idea and urged him to set an example to the rest of the UK about staying at home to tackle the virus.
She said: “I would say me travelling from Edinburgh to Aberdeen to visit a vaccination centre right now is not essential, and Boris Johnson travelling from London to wherever he is in Scotland to do the same is not essential.
“If we’re asking other people to abide by that, then I’m sorry but it’s probably incumbent on us to do likewise.”
But a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister hit back tonight, saying: “ “It remains the fact that it is a fundamental role of the Prime Minister to be the physical representative of the UK Government, and it’s right he’s visible and accessible to businesses and communities across all parts of the UK – especially during the pandemic.”
When asked about the visit in the House of Commons by SNP MP Neale Hanvey – who described the move as “futile Union Jackery” – Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said it was a “ridiculous” argument.
He added: “The Prime Minister is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and wherever he needs to go in his vital work against this pandemic, he will go.”
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