First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has asked Boris Johnson to stay out of Scotland.
Her reaction is to the Prime Minister’s planned one-day trip to Scotland to highlight the value of the United Kingdom in fighting the Coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Johnson’s visit is concerning the polls suggesting growing support for Independence and Ms Sturgeon’s threat to hold an advisory referendum, Sky News noted.
Mr Johnson said in a statement that “the people of the UK have stood together during this pandemic”.
Sky News quotes the PM as saying that “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.”
The PM added, “The great benefits of co-operation across the whole of the UK have never been clearer than since the beginning of this pandemic.
“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.
“Mutual co-operation across the UK throughout this pandemic is exactly what the people of Scotland expect and it is what I have been focussed on.”
However, Ms Sturgeon had said the PM’s planned visit was unnecessary as there is a stay-at-home lockdown in Scotland.
The First Minister urged political leaders to abide by the same rules as they expect of the general public.
She said during her daily briefing that “We are living in a global pandemic, and every day I stand and look down the camera and say ‘don’t travel unless it is essential, work from home if you possibly can’.
“That has to apply to all of us. People like me and Boris Johnson have to be in work for reasons people understand, but we don’t have to travel across the UK. We have a duty to lead by example.”
In an effort to defend her stay-at-home order, the first minister said she rejected her team suggestion to visit a vaccination centre in Aberdeen in the coming weeks because she believes it is not essential.
She said just as she tells the people to ensure that they only embark on an essential journey, she has to do the same.
She said, “If I’m standing here every day saying to all of you watching: ‘don’t leave your house unless it is essential’, I have a duty to subject myself to that same discipline and decision making
“I would say me travelling from Edinburgh to Aberdeen to visit a vaccine centre is not essential – Boris Johnson travelling from London to wherever in Scotland to do the same is not essential.
“If we’re asking other people to abide by that then I’m sorry, I think it’s incumbent on us to do likewise.”
The Downing Spokesperson, however, argued that the PM has a fundamental role to be “the physical representative of the UK government
“It’s right that he is visible and accessible to businesses, communities and the public across all parts of the UK, especially during the pandemic,” he added.
Similarly, the Scotland Secretary in the Commons, Alister Jack also defended Mr Johnson’s trip, saying “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.”
Mr Johnson had had to defend his trip to Bristol vaccination centre earlier this month after he was asked why he chose to travel despite his government warnings that the public to stay at home.
In his defence, the PM said “I have come because it’s part of my job,” he said.
“And the guidance also says that you should go to work and do your job normally if you absolutely have to.
“I think it is essential that I explain to the public what we are doing to roll out the mass vaccination centres.”
100,162 people have died with COVID-19 in the UK making the country the first European nation to pass the mark.
Mr Johnson said during a press briefing that he took “full responsibility” for government’s action.
He assured that the government did everything it could while saying “I’m deeply sorry for every life lost.”