Boris Johnson has snubbed an invitation from Nicola Sturgeon to meet during his visit to Scotland this week.
The First Minister had invited Johnson to meet at her official Edinburgh residence, Bute House, to discuss the UK’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the Prime Minister has replied to Sturgeon in a letter – posted on Twitter by a Sky News journalist – instead aiming to focus on wider discussions at a later point.
In his letter, the Prime Minister said: “As I noted when we last met, I am keen to arrange an in-person meeting with you and the other first ministers and deputy first minister to build on the constructive discussions we had earlier this summer.
“We agreed then that we should establish a structured forum for ongoing engagement between the Government and the devolved administrations to deliver tangible outcomes in the interest of people throughout the UK.
“There is much for us to discuss as all parts of the UK work together on our shared priority of recovering from the pandemic.
“I understand our officials have made good progress on the details of this since we last spoke.”
Johnson added: “I am particularly keen that we work closely together on the vaccination booster campaign this autumn which will be crucial as we continue to tackle the pandemic.
“The UK Government has procured millions of vaccines for the entire United Kingdom and we look forward to working with the Scottish Government as we roll out booster jabs in line with JCVI’s advice.
“The UK Government is working closely with the devolved Scottish Government on a variety of different issues.
“I know that you have been meeting regularly with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, but I look forward to meeting with you soon and working together in the interests of people in all parts of our country.”
Sturgeon acknowledged in her own letter on Monday she and Johnson “differ politically”, but stressed the Scottish and UK governments must “work together where we can”.
Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross: “She (Sturgeon) put out her invite to the Prime Minister via Twitter… I’m not sure if he got it before everyone else got it on Twitter.
“His response was quite right, Nicola Sturgeon had agreed with the Prime Minister that Governments across the UK would meet together… that’s the right approach to take and that was the agreement made recently.
“There’s constant dialogue between the Scottish and UK governments.”
Sturgeon confirmed on Tuesday that most of Scotland’s remaining coronavirus restrictions are to be scrapped from next Monday – which she hailed as “perhaps the most significant date so far” in the pandemic.
From August 9, Scotland will move “beyond level zero” with the removal of most restrictions such as physical distancing and the size of social gatherings.