23 Jul Boris Johnson visits Scotland to promote the union but Scots increasingly eye independence | Politics News
“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.
“In Scotland, the UK’s magnificent armed forces have been on the ground doing vital work to support the NHS, from setting up and running mobile testing sites to airlifting critically ill patients to hospitals from some of Scotland’s most remote communities.
“And 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.”
Supporting the prime minister’s claim that the union has been good for Scots, the government said the Treasury has protected more than 900,000 jobs in Scotland and granted thousands of loans to businesses.
In addition, the UK’s armed forces have airlifted critically ill patients from some of the most remote communities, helped convert temporary hospitals and run mobile testing sites.
The government also claimed the Department of Health and Social Care had procured millions of pieces of PPE to keep Scottish frontline workers safe, on top of £4.6bn given to the Scottish administration to help tackle coronavirus.
But on the eve of the PM’s visit, Ms Sturgeon said: “I have no plans to meet the prime minister tomorrow. I am always happy to meet the prime minister if he wants to do so.
“We are all very focused on the immediate priority of continuing to suppress COVID and I look forward to working with the UK government on that basis.
“We’ve got political disagreements, we’ve got disagreements over aspects of Scotland and the UK’s future and I am sure we will continue to discuss those constructively as well.”
At Westminster, the all-party Scottish Affairs Committee of MPs published an interim report on intergovernmental working during the coronavirus pandemic, claiming it is having a “profound impact on devolution”.
The committee’s chairman, SNP MP Pete Wishart said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on both Scotland’s health and economy. It is also profoundly affecting devolution as the response to the crisis reveals the pre-existing creaking mechanisms.
“The overlapping responsibilities of policy areas operated by Westminster and Holyrood in the pandemic response make intergovernmental communication absolutely critical in effectively controlling the spread of the virus.
“This was the cornerstone of the ‘four-nation’ approach that served so effectively at the start of the crisis.
“But as the focus has shifted from containment to opening-up the economy we are concerned that the structures that made this possible have stopped.
“We heard that there is a ‘void’ in ministerial-level communication and which appears to have occurred around the time that some divergence and confusion in messaging began to emerge.
“Simple mistakes of not making clear which nations in which new policies apply must not be made again.”