Boris Johnson: ‘I support devolution’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he supports devolution in Scotland but that the SNP’s handling of it has been “a disaster”.
Addressing the Scottish Conservative’s virtual party conference, the Prime Minister clarified comments made earlier this week in which he reportedly described Scottish devolution as a disaster.
“Now I know my comments on devolution have been widely reported this past week, but since no press were in the room, I’ll tell it to you straight”, he said. “The way the SNP have handled devolution in Scotland has been a disaster – from plummeting education standards, low business confidence and the lowest satisfaction in public services ever – their record is abysmal.
“The key is to have policies to show how devolution can work for Scotland, rather than the SNP obsession with making devolution work against the rest of the UK.
“However, just because I criticise devolved performance, does not mean I want to end or undermine devolution.
“As a former Mayor of London, I know how effective devolved powers can be, for example in making transport greener and in tackling crime; devolution should not be used by politicians as a wall to break an area of the UK away from the rest, it should be used as a step, to pass power down to local communities and businesses to make their lives better.”
Johnson said he wanted to devolve more powers from Holyrood to councils and communities across Scotland and stressed there is “simply no room for division or distraction over the constitution”.
The Prime Minister told delegates that the only way to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic is to work together.
He said: “I would like to thank the Scottish Government for the way it has worked with the UK Government to try and tackle this virus over these past months and appeal to them to continue working with us, making use of the vaccine stocks, tests kits and new technology that come from being part of what is still one of the world’s leading scientific superpowers.
“COVID-19 doesn’t care about constitutions and whatever our political differences, we all need to work together at this time to protect the health and jobs of people in Scotland.
“And from our UK test and trace labs to supporting struggling businesses, working together is what we are doing.
“That must be everyone’s priority right now.”
Johnson said that “nobody could be more proud” than he is of the UK and the “vital contribution Scotland makes to it” and they key priorities are boosting Scotland’s economy, improving transport connections to other parts of the UK and building a net-zero economy.
Johnson also used his address to thank keyworkers and the people of Scotland.
He said: “Thank you to the staff of our wonderful NHS – the nurses and doctors, the porters and cleaners, the technicians and administrators – our healthcare heroes who have battled to keep us safe and to save our lives – so often at the risk of their own.
“Thank you to Scotland’s key workers – teachers, bus drivers, farmers, supermarket staff, firefighters, delivery workers and so many, many more, who have kept us fed, our children educated, our public services running.
“And thank you to the people of Scotland – every one of you who is playing your own vital role in beating back this virus by following the guidance, and sticking to the rules.”