It is the second time in recent weeks the Prime Minister has issued a plea to keep the Union together amid a wave of nationalist support for independence in Scotland. Today, Mr Johnson will meet with Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill in Belfast.
He is expected to stress the importance of the UK, as well as discuss how to rebuild the economy just a day after the UK officially entered a coronavirus-driven recession.
Ahead of his trip, the Prime Minister said: “As the country begins to get back on its feet in the wake of coronavirus, we cannot simply strive to rebuild, but we must commit to building back stronger than ever.
“I cannot overstate how important the close co-operation that we have seen between central and devolved government will continue to be to this.”
Mr Johnson said he would help to make sure Northern Ireland “is ready to take full advantage of the many opportunities that lie ahead.”
Analysts have said the prospect of Ireland and Northern Ireland reuniting has become more likely this year, with Brexit a key factor.
There was also a surge of support for Irish political party Sinn Féin, which is open in its support for a united Ireland, in the country’s February general election this year.
Last month, Mr Johnson also visited Scotland – again in an attempt to stress the importance of the United Kingdom.
The Prime Minister said the coronavirus pandemic had demonstrated how England and Scotland can work together.
It is the largest lead for Scottish independence ever recorded in a YouGov poll. It involved 1,142 Scottish adults over the age of 16.
YouGov said: “To say our latest Scotland poll is bad news for unionists would be an understatement.
“The SNP still look set for a landslide victory in next May’s Scottish Parliament elections, an election they will go into pledging to hold a second independence referendum.”
On his Northern Ireland visit, the Prime Minister is also due to discuss plans to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the creation of Northern Ireland, due in May 2021.
In addition, he will have his first in-person meeting with the new leader of Ireland Micheál Martin, who replaced Leo Varadkar in June.
Mr Martin and Mr Johnson are due to discuss Brexit and UK-EU trade talks, as well as the battle against COVID-19.
Published at Thu, 13 Aug 2020 00:21:42 +0000