SNP minister warns Boris Johnson could break Covid rules by visiting Scotland

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, during a tour of the manufacturing facility for the Oxford/Astrazeneca

Prime minister Boris Johnson, during a tour of the manufacturing facility for the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine at Oxford Biomedica in Oxfordshire - Credit: PA

An SNP minister has warned Boris Johnson could be breaking Scotland's coronavirus rules by visiting the country this week.

Christina McKelvie, the minister for older people and equalities, doubted whether Johnson's trip would count as "essential work".

The prime minister is reportedly planning a visit to Scotland to make an impassioned plea for Scots to reject calls for a second referendum on independence.

The SNP quipped that if the prime minister's visit is truly essential then the union "really is in peril".

News of Johnson's visit comes just days after Nicola Sturgeon's government unveiled plans to hold an independence referendum without Downing Street's permission.

It also comes as Sunday marked the 20th poll in a row showing support for Scottish independence.

The Sunday Times published the results of opinion polls in the four nations of the UK, which found a majority of voters think Scotland is likely to be independent in the next 10 years.

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In Scotland, the poll found that 49% backed independence compared with 44% against – a margin of 52% to 48% if the undecideds are excluded.

It also put support for the SNP on 70% – up seven points since the last elections in 2016 – while the Tories were down six points on 25%, with Labour down five points on 19%.

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Speaking at a London vaccination centre on Monday, Johnson said the advantages of the union "speak for themselves" as he sidestepped a question on whether No 10 would challenge Sturgeon's referendum in the courts.

"The whole UK is going through a pandemic, I think what the people of the UK want to see is everybody focusing on beating that pandemic, which we are, rolling out the vaccine, and getting ready to bounce back from that pandemic and have the strongest possible economic recovery," he told reporters.

"I think people also can see everywhere in the UK the visible benefits of our wonderful union.

"A vaccine programme that is being rolled out by a National Health Service, a vaccine that was developed in labs in Oxford and is being administered by the British Army, so I think the strengths and advantages of the Union speak for themselves."

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