PM praises 'sheer might' of UK union as Scotland eyes independence

The ‘sheer might’ of the UK union has been shown during the battle against coronavirus, the prime minister has said ahead of a trip to Scotland today.

Boris Johnson will claim being part of the UK saved 900,000 Scottish jobs during the crisis, as he travels north of the border for the first time since the general election in December.

The Tory leader is set to visit businesses hit by the pandemic, as well as green energy workers and military personnel, to thank them for their hard work – but has no plans to meet with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

It comes amid a surge in support for an independent Scotland, with two Panelbase surveys claiming 54% of respondents would like to see the split.

Mr Johnson, who has repeatedly ruled out another referendum, said ahead of his trip: ‘When I stood on the steps of Downing Street one year ago, I pledged to be a Prime Minister for every corner of the United Kingdom. 

‘Whether you are from East Kilbride or Dumfries, Motherwell or Paisley, I promised to level up across Britain and close the opportunity gap.

‘The last six months have shown exactly why the historic and heartfelt bond that ties the four nations of our country together is so important and the sheer might of our union has been proven once again.’

He added: ‘The UK Treasury stepped in to save the jobs of a third of Scotland’s entire workforce and kept the wolves at bay for tens of thousands of Scottish businesses.

‘More than ever, this shows what we can achieve when we stand together, as one United Kingdom.’

The government originally planned for a one nation strategy during the coronavirus pandemic, but Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales all eventually developed more cautious approaches to easing lockdown rules.

The SNP is predicted to clinch the majority of seats in Scottish Parliament in the election next year.

Mr Johnson’s visit comes days after the long-awaited Russia report confirmed Moscow did try to influence the 2014 referendum.

He has promised £50 million for Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles to develop the economy of the islands as part of a growth deal.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has pledged to invest the same amount in the islands, meaning every area in the country will now receive funding from the joint UK and Scottish government initiatives.

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