With approval ratings for the SNP and its leader Nicola Sturgeon soaring, Mr Johnson is facing a battle to keep the UK together – especially with next year’s Scottish elections offering an opportunity for an increased mandate.
Coronavirus has offered another opportunity for increased support for Scottish nationalism, with Ms Sturgeon repeatedly condemning England’s response.
In the most recent independence poll, around 54 percent said they would vote in favour of independence.
Another poll by Ipsos Mori found 55 percent said Mr Johnson had handled the pandemic ‘fairly badly’ or ‘very badly’.
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The SNP said Mr Johnson’s visit north of the border showed he was panicking over the future of the Union.
SNP Deputy Leader Keith Brown said: “The only reason Boris Johnson is coming here today is because he is in full-blown panic mode amid rising support for independence.”
Scottish historian Professor Tom Devine compared Scotland’s dislike of Mr Johnson to Margaret Thatcher, who was equally disliked.
He told BBC Newsnight: “This is the first time since the demise of Margaret Thatcher that there’s been another UK prime minister who s almost as equally disliked in Scotland.
Support for Scottish independence is rising
“The different is, there is a degree of contempt for Johnson in a way there wasn’t for Thatcher…. There was a degree of respect for Thatcher.”
Ahead of Mr Johnson’s arrival in Stromness, a small group of masked protesters gathered, waving signs that said “Hands off Scotland” and “Our Scotland, our future”, while an “Indy Ref Now” placard was seen on the side of a van.
Mr Johnson visited Orkney today where he was hit by two protests, organised by the Yes movement and anti-racist campaigners.
This was despite pledging £50million in to the Scottish archipelago, Shetlands and the Western Isles.
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The Tory leader is likely to have infuriated independence campaigners after he said the “sheer might” of the Union has been shown during the coronavirus pandemic ahead of his visit to the north of the border.
Ms Sturgeon used the Prime Minister’s visit to issue another appeal for independence.
On Twitter, she wrote: “I welcome the PM to Scotland today.
“One of the key arguments for independence is the ability of Scotland to take our own decisions, rather than having our future decided by politicians we didn’t for, taking us down a path we haven’t chosen.
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“His presence highlights that.”
Although support for independence has risen, Ms Sturgeon has faced criticism over recent weeks.
Earlier this month, Ms Sturgeon was criticised for taking nearly two days to respond to racist protesters along the border and only responded after being forced during a press conference.
She finally condemned the protests and dubbed them “racist” and “morons”.
Nicola Sturgeon has faced criticism
However, when asked whether any SNP members would be kicked out of her party if they were discovered to be part of the protests, Ms Sturgeon said she cannot “stop people waving SNP banners”.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I can’t stop people waving SNP banners.
“I can be very clear that they don’t speak for us.
“I’m not going to speak about internal disciplinary arrangements in the SNP, we’ve got well established processes that can be used if necessary.
“I can’t be any clearer than I have been that the SNP is an open, welcoming party.
“Scotland is an open, welcoming country and that kind of protest is not something I condone or endorse in any way shape or form.”
Published at Thu, 23 Jul 2020 14:15:26 +0000