Daily Mail

Johnson in crunch No Deal talks with Scottish Tory chief

- By Jason Groves Political Editor

Boris Johnson will meet Scottish conservati­ve leader ruth Davidson in edinburgh today in the wake of her public refusal to back his no Deal Brexit policy.

the new Prime Minister is heading north on the first leg of a tour of the UK designed to underline his commitment to the Union.

Ahead of visits to Wales and northern ireland, he will declare himself a ‘passionate believer in our great Union’, as he unveils plans to release £300million for ‘growth deals’ in the three nations.

But his charm offensive may fall on stony ground in crunch talks with Miss Davidson. She said yesterday that she could not support no Deal under any circumstan­ces.

She pointed out that she has no obligation to sign up to his timetable of taking the UK out of the EU by October 31.

Miss Davidson said the PM had her ‘full support’ in pursuing a revised deal which could ensure an orderly exit from the EU. But, writing in the Mail on Sunday, she added: ‘Where i differ with the UK Government is on the question of a no Deal Brexit.

‘When i was debating against the pro-Brexit side in 2016, i don’t remember anybody saying we should crash out of the EU with no arrangemen­ts in place to help maintain the vital trade that flows uninterrup­ted between Britain and the european Union.

‘i don’t think the UK Government should pursue a no Deal Brexit, and if it comes to it, i won’t support it.’

Miss Davidson, who played a key role in persuading theresa May that no Deal posed a risk to the Union, is expected to repeat the message to Mr Johnson. in turn, he will attempt to reassure tory supporters that the defence of the Union is a priority.

last week, Mr Johnson followed through on a symbolic pledge to add the responsibi­lity ‘Minister for the Union’ to the PM’s official job title.

today he is expected to say: ‘Our Union is the most successful political and economic union in history. We are a global brand and together we are safer, stronger and more prosperous. So as we prepare for our bright future after Brexit, it’s vital we renew the ties that bind our United Kingdom.

‘i’m proud to be in Scotland today to make clear that i am a passionate believer in our great Union, and i look forward to visiting Wales and northern ireland to ensure that every decision i make as Prime Minister promotes and strengthen­s our Union.’

But he will also find opposition from nicola Sturgeon whom he will also meet in edinburgh.

in a letter to the new PM last week, the Scottish First Minister warned she would demand a second independen­ce referendum in the event of a no Deal.

Miss Sturgeon said: ‘ Given your public comments about leaving with or without a deal, “come what may” and “do or die”, it is now – more than ever – essential that in Scotland we have an alternativ­e option.’

A study by the institute for Government today warns that Mr Johnson would have to impose direct rule in northern ireland after a no Deal Brexit because of the scale of the decisions required in the province where the power-sharing assembly is suspended.

cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill warned ministers this year that such a move could lead to demands for a referendum on irish unificatio­n and another poll on Scottish independen­ce.

Mr Johnson has claimed Brexit will reduce support for Scottish nationalis­m as the SnP would have to accept the euro to join the eU.

tod a y ’ s £300million announceme­nt will provide funding for ‘growth deals’ in a areas including Falkirk, Argyll and Bute, south-west northern ireland, the causeway coast and mid-Wales. the money is earmarked for housing, transport, training and green growth.

‘The ties that bind’

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