Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt to face each other at Perth hustings

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 5 July 2019 in News

Prime Minister announced plans for a review, led by Lord Dunlop, into how the UK government is structured in the context of devolution

Image credit: PA

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt will face each other in front of Scottish Tory members at a leadership hustings in Perth this evening.

With Theresa May last night using a speech in Stirling to urge her successor to prioritise the union, the two candidates will appear in front of members to make a speech before taking questions.

The Prime Minister used her speech to announce plans for a review, led by Lord Dunlop, into how the UK government is structured in the context of devolution, and whether departments are working in the best interests of the union.

May said strengthening the union has been an "explicit priority" of her government over the past three years, but refused to be drawn on whether the prospect of a no deal Brexit would drive up support for independence.

The prime minister said: "We need to work more cleverly, more creatively and more coherently as a UK government fully committed to a modern, 21st century union in the context of a stable and permanent devolution settlement to strengthen the glue that holds our union together.

"There have been several reviews into how devolution works. But we have never thought deeply about how we make the Union work - how we ensure that as we fully respect devolution, we do not forget the UK government's fundamental duty to be a government for the whole United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

"Of course it will be for my successor to respond to his recommendations, and I am delighted that both candidates are supportive of the review."

But Nicola Sturgeon branded the move "too little, too late".

Speaking ahead of the appearance, the FM said: “The Tories' behaviour towards Scotland in the three years since the Brexit vote has been high-handed, arrogant and dismissive.

"They have demolished any notion of a respect agenda and have destroyed their own claims that the union is in any meaningful way a partnership of equals.

"People across Scotland can now see that more plainly than ever. Theresa May's so-called review of devolution is too little, too late".

With Gordon Brown, David Lidington and Ruth Davidson all expressing concern over the future of the union, both candidates will face questions on their approach to demands for a second independence referendum.

Boris Johnson has previously described himself as a "passionate believer" in the union, with the former foreign secretary claiming that Brexit could "cement and intensify" relations between Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, while Jeremy Hunt said he would "never pay any price if it meant that Scotland would become independent".

Party members should receive their ballots in the coming days, with the winner to be announced on 23 July.

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