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Boris Johnson to meet Ruth Davidson in first Scots visit

The new Prime Minister has called for a renewal of 'the ties that bind our United Kingdom'.

Johnson: Called for renewal of 'ties that bind the UK'. Pool

Boris Johnson will meet Ruth Davidson for the first time since he became Prime Minister on a visit to Scotland where he will call for a renewal of “the ties that bind our United Kingdom”.

The Prime Minister and the Scottish Conservative leader will hold talks the day after she announced she would not support a no-deal Brexit if Johnson’s government pursued it.

He has vowed to take Britain out of the EU with or without a deal on October 31, with a new six-strong Brexit “war Cabinet” of ministers to meet for the first time on Monday.

Michael Gove, tasked with leading no-deal planning, declared at the weekend the government was “working on the assumption” a no-deal will happen.

The new PM will miss the first “war Cabinet” to visit Faslane naval base, where he will announce fresh funding of £300m to expand regional growth deals in parts of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

But the Scottish Government has disputed that the pledged cash is new, and has instead said it “falls far short of what is required”.

Raising the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, finance secretary Derek Mackay accused the Prime Minister of “fiddling while Rome burns”.

In his first official trip north of the border since entering 10 Downing Street, Johnson will meet Davidson and is also expected to meet First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh later.

Davidson has said she would back the new UK Government in its bid to forge a new Brexit deal with Brussels.

However, writing in the Scottish Mail on Sunday, she added: “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.”

Speaking ahead of his visit, Johnson said: “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.”

Number 10 also confirmed the Prime Minister is planning to meet farmers in Wales, as well as a visit to Northern Ireland to discuss ongoing efforts to restore devolution at Stormont.

Sturgeon has said her government is reviewing the timetable for a potential second independence referendum amid fears of a no-deal exit from the UK.

Both the First Minister and Mark Drakeford, the Welsh First Minister, have told the PM it would be “unconscionable” for the UK to crash out of the EU.

Johnson has also taken the title of “minister for the union” – a move described by a spokesman as a statement of his commitment to strengthening the Union.

The new growth deal cash will go towards deals in Falkirk, the islands and Argyll and Bute in Scotland, with funding also earmarked for areas in the other devolved nations.

New Scottish secretary Alister Jack said: “It’s really great news that the Prime Minister is committed to ensuring that every part of Scotland benefits from UK Government growth deals.

“This investment will enable us to build on the success of our existing growth deals, which are helping to create jobs and boost local economies right across Scotland.”

A spokesman for Derek Mackay said: “There is nothing new in this announcement of deals which are already under discussion and £300m for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland falls far short of what is required, when the UK Government is already lagging behind the Scottish Government’s funding of city and growth deals by around £400m.

“In the face of a no-deal Brexit which would push the UK and Scotland into recession and put hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk, Boris Johnson appears to be fiddling while Rome burns.”


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