SNP dismantle Boris Johnson’s claim smaller nations can’t capably deal with coronavirus

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during a Stay in Scotland campaign event. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during a Stay in Scotland campaign event. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA. - Credit: PA

The SNP have dismantled Boris Johnson's claims about Scotland's ability to deal with coronavirus on its own.

Johnson said that the crisis showed the 'power of our Union', stating this was 'only going to get more important as the world sails nervously into economic waters made alarmingly choppy by this unprecedented pandemic'.

The PM continued: 'That doesn't mean we should dismiss the Union as simply a lifeboat to which our four nations can cling in times of peril.

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'Because our true strength is revealed not by our ability to weather storms but in the way that, since 1707, we time and again have bounced back from adversity and moved forwards together. And we will recover together once again now.'

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But the SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford pointed to smaller nations in Europe which were able to deal with the crisis more adequately than the Westminster government's attempts for the UK.

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Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said: 'I think he's going to find that this message is going to go down particularly badly in Scotland.

'Is he really saying that any other small nation in Europe and any other part of the world doesn't have the capability to deal with the Covid crisis?

'I think the days of telling Scotland that we are either too wee, too poor or too stupid really is over.

'I think what we've demonstrated over the past two months in the areas of devolved responsibility and of public health is that the leadership that has been shown by our First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon) is in sharp contrast with the bluster we have seen from Boris Johnson.'

Nicola Sturgeon meanwhile said the UK could learn lessons from Scotland's more cautious response to Covid-19.

The Scottish first minster spoke as different approaches to the pandemic north and south of the border appeared to highlight a growing divide between Scotland and England.

Sturgeon said: 'Do I think there are things the UK government could learn from Scotland? Yes I do.'

'An approach that is very much driven by elimination I think is one thing they could learn,' she added.

'I would encourage the UK government to do that because I think that would help all of the countries of the UK to drive the infection to the lowest possible level and put us into the strongest position going into winter.'

She suggested the approach adopted by Westminster might involve 'pretending that Covid-19 is going to disappear and that past six months never happened'.

She continued: 'As of now, Scotland has a very low prevalence of this virus.

'We have had no deaths over the past week, we have only one in the past 15 days.

'And that is a much lower position of the state of the virus than other parts of the UK.

'Therefore, that says to me that what we are doing in Scotland is right and we should keep doing it.'

Sturgeon said her decisions during the pandemic have all been based on public health and not party politics.

Johnson's comments come after successive polls have shown that a majority of Scots would now vote yes in a new referendum on Scottish independence.

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