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Boris Johnson faces criticism after calling devolution 'a disaster'

Tim Ireland/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Boris Johnson faces criticism after calling devolution 'a disaster'

Boris Johnson has come under fire after describing devolution as a “disaster” and telling a group of Tory MPs it was “Tony Blair’s biggest mistake”.

While Downing Street did not deny the comments, reported by the Sun following a conversation with English MPs, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross moved to distance himself from the Prime Minister, saying: “Devolution has not been a disaster. The SNP’s non-stop obsession with another referendum - above jobs, schools and everything else - has been a disaster.”

Speaking today, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said Johnson has "always supported devolution", and that his comments referred to the rise in support for the SNP.

Jenrick said: "What he does feel strongly, and I would agree, is that devolution in Scotland has facilitated the rise of separatism and nationalism in the form of the SNP, and that that's trying to break apart the United Kingdom.

"Anybody, like the prime minister, who loves the UK wants to keep it together thinks that that's a very, very dangerous and disappointing outcome that we need to battle against."

The comments follow rising tensions between the UK and Scottish Government over Brexit and the impact of the UK Internal Market Bill, with the Scottish Government describing the legislation as a “power grab”.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: "The Tory mask has well-and-truly slipped after Boris Johnson was caught red-handed claiming that Scottish devolution is a mistake.

"The Tory government is undertaking a full scale assault on Scotland's devolution settlement with its power grab bill. The Prime Minister's disdain only serves to underline the growing threat we face.

"Scotland has been completely ignored by Westminster throughout the Brexit process - demonstrating that we will never be treated as an equal partner in the UK. It is clearer than ever that the only way to protect Scotland's interests is to become an independent country.

"Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross might be furiously spinning tonight - but people in Scotland haven't forgotten that he has repeatedly voted against new powers for the Scottish Parliament, rubber-stamped imposing an extreme Brexit against Scotland's will, and voted for the UK Internal market Bill, which gives Westminster the power to overrule Scotland in key devolved areas including the NHS, education, transport, infrastructure, food and environmental standards.

"The fact is Westminster cannot be trusted to respect Scotland's wishes. The people of Scotland deserve a choice over our future instead of having an extreme Brexit and power grab imposed, against our will, by a Tory government we didn't vote for."

Read the most recent article written by Liam Kirkaldy - Sketch: Ian Blackford, devolution and Scotland's tampons

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