Johnson leaves for Scotland even as fears of break up of UK persist
LONDON (UK) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the benefits of being part of the United Kingdom as he gets ready to visit Scotland on Thursday to face increasing support for another independence referendum.
Ahead of his visit, Johnson said that Scotland as a part of the United Kingdom has got its hands on a coronavirus vaccine developed by the University of Oxford. They are being administered by their shared armed forces, paving way for 80 new vaccine centres in Scotland.
Johnson said, “We have pulled together to defeat the virus. Mutual cooperation across the UK throughout this pandemic is exactly what the people of Scotland expect and it is what I have been focussed on.”
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who runs Scotland’s semi-autonomous government, is pinning hopes that a strong performance by her Scottish National Party in an election for a devolved parliament for the country in May would give her the authority to hold a second referendum.
If Scotland voted for independence it would indicate that the United Kingdom would lose about a third of its landmass and almost a tenth of its population. This would have an adverse effect on the country as the world’s sixth-biggest economy is struggling with the impact of Brexit.
Johnson, who would have to agree to a new referendum, has said a new vote was not needed after independence was rejected by Scottish voters in 2014.
Scotland voted against independence by 55% to 45% in a 2014 referendum. However, a majority of Scots also supported staying in the European Union in the subsequent 2016 Brexit vote, pushing ahead demands by Scottish nationalists for a new independence vote after the UK as a whole cast their votes to leave.