Boris Johnson to visit Scotland this week in attempt to shore up the union

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVI

Prime minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London - Credit: PA

Boris Johnson will tour Scotland this week in a bid to shore up the union after yet another poll showed strong support for Scottish independence.

The Sun has reported Johnson will use the trip to promote the benefits of Scotland staying a part of the United Kingdom.

It comes after Nicola Sturgeon threatened to hold a referendum on Scottish independence without Westminster's permission if she wins this May's Holyrood elections with a landslide.

Speaking at a London vaccination centre today, 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.

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"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."

This comes after 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.

Former prime minister Gordon Brown said the UK risked becoming a “failed state” unless it makes reforms to the Union.

Brown urged the e minister to consider ideas like replacing the House of Lords with a “senate of the regions” and to review the way the UK is governed.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Brown said “the choice is now between a reformed state and a failed state”.

"It is indeed Scotland where dissatisfaction is so deep that it threatens the end of the United Kingdom," he wrote.

"Perhaps for too long we have left unstated the shared purpose and values that bind the UK together, and we have said too little about what we have in common: our shared beliefs in tolerance, liberty, civic responsibility and fairness, and our conviction that all benefit when we pool and share risks and resources across the country."

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Brown said: "I do think that Boris Johnson has not quite understood how deep the resentment is, how the lack of trust is causing him a problem about his acceptability in different parts of the country.  

"His job is to unite the country, to bring people together – that’s what a prime minister has got to do.  

"He shouldn’t be in a battle between the centre and the different regions and nations. He should be trying to bring people together."

Brown is rumoured to be helping cabinet minister Michael Gove on how best to save the union.

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