The Daily Telegraph

PM tells Scots: Union saved 900,000 jobs

- By Simon Johnson scottish Political editor

BORIS JOHNSON will today tell Scots that being part of the Union saved 900,000 jobs north of the border and “kept the wolves at bay”.

On his first visit to Scotland since December’s general election, the Prime Minister will say the “sheer might of our Union” has helped protect Scotland during the pandemic.

Speaking ahead of his visit, Mr Johnson said the last six months demonstrat­ed “exactly why the historic and heartfelt bond that ties the four nations of our country together is so important”. He also highlighte­d the groundwork carried out by the UK’S “magnificen­t” Armed Forces, including running mobile testing sites and transferri­ng critically ill patients from remote Scottish communitie­s.

Despite polls showing a surge in support for independen­ce and Nicola Sturgeon’s approval ratings, Mr Johnson said the Union was “stronger than ever” and reaffirmed his “unwavering commitment” to defending it.

He added that the unpreceden­ted financial support for businesses, along with an additional £4.6billion handed to the SNP government, had “kept the wolves at bay” during the crisis.

His trip to Scotland aims to increase public awareness of the extent of the support provided by the UK Government during the pandemic, amid intense frustratio­n in No 10 that Ms Sturgeon is reaping the credit. There is increasing concern among senior Tories that the Union is in jeopardy despite the vast sums being spent to shore up the Scottish economy.

Recent polls have put support for independen­ce at 54 per cent and suggested Ms Sturgeon was on course to win a majority in next May’s Holyrood election, placing huge pressure on Mr Johnson to agree to her demand for a second referendum.

No10 this week reiterated that Mr Johnson would continue to uphold the “decisive verdict” from the 2014 referendum by refusing a rerun.

The Prime Minister used this week’s Cabinet, the first face-to-face meeting since before lockdown, to order ministers to travel more frequently to Scotland to boost their public profiles.

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