Rishi Sunak will use a visit to Scotland to highlight the benefits of remaining in the United Kingdom as he seeks to counter Nicola Sturgeon’s push for independence.
The Prime Minister is expected to hold face-to-face talks with the Scottish First Minister during his two-day trip, which begins on Thursday.
Details of the visit have yet to be confirmed, but the Daily Telegraph said it will tie in with the announcement of two new green freeports expected to be near Edinburgh and Inverness.
The UK Government’s relationship with Sturgeon’s administration in Scotland has been strained not only by the independence issue but also the potential for Westminster to block Holyrood’s gender recognition laws.
It will be Sunak’s first visit to Scotland as Prime Minister, although he has held talks with Sturgeon before and the pair met at the British-Irish Council Summit in Blackpool.
At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Sunak said he wants to work with the Scottish Government on the issue of the North Sea oil and gas industry.
But he claimed Sturgeon’s Government “don’t want to support the Scottish energy industry and the 200,000 jobs that it produces”.
He was responding to SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, who said Scotland’s membership of the UK union “simply doesn’t add up”.
Sunak said: “I’m keen to work with the Scottish Government to support the North Sea because it’s something that we’re all very proud of in the UK.”
According to The Telegraph, the new freeports will be at Cromarty Firth, near Inverness, and on the Firth of Forth, near Edinburgh.
The green freeports are aimed at boosting investment and growth through the use of tax incentives.