Scotland would not have received a single dose of the coronavirus vaccine if Nicola Sturgeon had been in charge of distributing it, Boris Johnson has claimed.
Johnson told Tory MPs that Scots would have missed out on doses of the new jab had Sturgeon’s party been responsible for its distribution, the Guardian understands.
Johnson apparently made the remark during a virtual meeting of the 1922 committee of backbench MPs on Tuesday as he discussed the vote on a third national lockdown in England.
The prime minister is understood to have highlighted the threat of the strain of virus when he was asked to address the issue of the SNP from a Scottish Tory MP.
Johnson is reported to have said that the strength of the union lay in what could be done for people across the UK and claimed that if it were up to the SNP, Scotland would not have a single vaccine delivered to it.
One MP in the virtual meeting told the Guardian: “Essentially, the point the prime minister was making is that the UK is a major country, we’ve got sufficient clout to get the vaccines rolled out. He did actually mention that we were ahead of the rest of Europe.
“He said if it were up to the SNP then there wouldn’t have been a single vaccine delivered in Scotland. It was a UK effort, in other words, we needed the clout of a big government.”
No 10 has been contacted for comment.
The first doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine began to be administered in the UK on Monday, after the jab received approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) last month. It is the second vaccine to be approved by the regulator in the UK, following the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.
The comment comes after Johnson was accused of following Sturgeon’s lead when it came to national lockdowns.
Johnson announced England’s nationwide lockdown hours after Sturgeon had, prompting social users to speculate the prime minister had been taking cues from his Scottish counterpart.
One Twitter user said it was “funny” how it took Scotland to declare another lockdown for Boris Johnson to then make a speech about tighter restrictions.
Another joked: “Boris Johnson again seems frightened into action by an announcement in Scotland, and seems likely to announce a March-style lockdown. Presume it’ll be roughly the same reasoning as Sturgeon laid out, with more Latin.”
While a third quipped: “I think Nicola Sturgeon should resign. Not because she’s done anything wrong – it would just be really comforting to know Boris Johnson is going to do the same thing in a couple of days’ time.”