Indyref2: Boris Johnson insists Covid recovery is ‘priority’, not referendum

BORIS Johnson has refused to be drawn on any future independence referendum, despite Michael Gove saying one would be held if there was “settled will” in Scotland.

Speaking during an interview with the BBC during his two-day visit to Scotland, the Prime Minister dodged questions surrounding the constitutional debate, instead urging focus to be on the economic recovery post-pandemic.

Earlier this week, Mr Gove insisted the UK Government would not stand in the way of another referendum.

When asked if Westminster government would block a vote forever, Mr Gove replied: “No, if it is the case that there is clearly a settled will in favour of a referendum, then one will occur.”

As a co-operation deal between the SNP and the Scottish Greens “nears agreement”, Mr Johnson was asked for his response if the two parties together asked for explicit powers to hold another referendum.


READ MORE: Polling guru John Curtice says Johnson’s Indyref2 argument will soon ‘wash away’

He said: “What I will say is that, you talk about working with the First Minister quite rightly, and I want to work with the government in Scotland on what I think is the priority for the people in this country right now.

“I think the vaccine rollout in Scotland has been stunning, I think it is a massive credit to the people of Scotland who have come forward – we need people to come forward to get their second doses now, and young people to come forward and we want to work together to deliver a stronger economic recovery and for my money, that is the priority.”

Pushed on an answer, he was also quizzed over Mr Gove’s “settled will” comments and “what more do the SNP need to do?”

The Prime Minister replied: “My impression, talking to everybody around the country and in Scotland, is that people want us to get on with taking us through the pandemic, out the other side and having the strongest possible economic recovery – a vaccine-led economic recovery by which a simple vowel change takes us from ‘jabs, jabs, jabs’ to ‘jobs,  jobs, jobs’.

“That is what we are trying to do.”

Yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon said it was a “missed opportunity” after Mr Johnson failed to meet her during his visit north of the border.

The First Minister invited him to meet with her at Bute House for talks during his two-day visit to Scotland.

But the Prime Minister rejected the invitation.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t feel ‘snubbed’ by Boris Johnson’s invitation rejection

Ms Sturgeon told broadcasters: “I don’t feel snubbed. I think most people will think it’s a bit odd, and a bit strange, that we’ve got a Prime Minister visiting Scotland who talks a lot, rightly, about the need – despite our political differences – for us to work together where we can on getting through Covid and into Covid recovery but doesn’t take the opportunity when in Scotland to come and talk to me directly about how we might co-operate and work together.

“I think people will just find that strange and it’s for Boris Johnson to explain, I suppose, why.

“This would be the first opportunity, given Covid, for us to sit down, appropriately socially distanced and have a face-to-face chat. I think it would have been a good opportunity.”

She added: “I was getting ready to welcome him to Bute House today. There’s lots that Boris Johnson and I fundamentally disagree on but we both lead governments that are trying to get our countries through Covid and so there’s a lot for us to co-operate on.

“So, you know, missed opportunity but that’s on him. I stand ready to work with whoever, however I can to get Scotland through Covid and into recovery.”

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992