Boris Johnson is determined to be the “voice” of unionists in Scotland, Downing Street said.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Johnson had always fully supported Scottish devolution – despite reportedly describing it as a “disaster” in a conference call with Tory MPs.
He also apparently called it “Tony Blair’s biggest mistake” – referring to the former Prime Minister who was one of devolution’s prime architects.
First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon seized on comments, which come just a few months before the Scottish Parliament elections next year, by suggesting independence was the best answer for the devolved administration.
But Number 10 said Johnson would be standing up for the majority verdict at the last independence referendum, where 55% voted to keep Scotland in the UK.
“The PM has always fully supported devolution,” Johnson’s official spokesman said. “This government continues to put the union at the heart of everything that we do.
“The PM has been clear that he thinks the four corners of the UK are stronger together and he will be the voice of the majority of Scottish people who voted decisively to keep the UK together.
“He will always stand against those trying to separate the United Kingdom.
“The PM believes that we had what was a once-in-a-generation referendum and that the result of it should be respected. He firmly rejects the SNP’s call to break up the United Kingdom.”