Boris Johnson’s plan to save the United Kingdom has been entitled ‘Project Love’, according to one of his top ministers.
According to Scottish secretary Alister Jack, in an interview with Politico, there will be a “slow-burn effort” from Number 10 to show Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland what the family of nations means to them.
It will involve replacing EU money with a new “shared prosperity fund” from Westminster, which will bypass the devolved governments and avoid them taking the credit.
Ministers will also give cash directly to local authorities under the banner of a Union flag, rather than handing the money straight to parliaments.
The measures are said to have been influenced by the EU – which was credited with handing money to Scotland directly.
“Before, Europe dealt directly with the Highlands and Islands, for instance,” said Jack. “Now, we want the UK government to be able to deal directly with local authorities and work with them to deliver on projects that matter most to people.”
It will be a stark contrast to the “fear” campaign in the 2014 Scottish independence and 2016 Brexit referendum.
“From a UK government point of view, it’s going to be positive and proactive, and about showing more than telling — really demonstrating the value of the UK to all its citizens,” a Conservative Party strategist told the news website.
“You have to do a lot of work to unfreeze the thinking around devolution and evolve it to be more proactive,” they added.
According to Politico, the plan also involves “growth deals” – hundreds of millions of pounds for businesses and projects across the UK.
That will be on top of the proposed bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland, and the low-tax freeports designed to stimulate business.
‘Project Love’ will also talk up Westminster’s support during the pandemic – including furlough and the vaccine.
“It’s important that [people] recognise there are many things like this that are the strength of the United Kingdom,” added Jack.