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Pete Wishart: ‘If the Union can impose Boris Johnson on Scotland, it can do anything’

Boris Johnson’s troubled tenure as prime minister should be “an instructive lesson” about the kind of difficulties the Union can impose on people living in Scotland, an SNP MP claimed.

Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire, said Mr Johnson “personifies everything that is wrong” with the UK and its leadership.

Speaking on the Stooshie – the Scottish politics podcast from DC Thomson – Mr Wishart predicted opinion polls will continue to move in favour of Scottish independence regardless of the prime minister’s future.

Pete Wishart, who is chairing inquiry into Scottish airports.
Pete Wishart

He admitted Mr Johnson would be a “top” choice among independence supporters to lead any campaign to defend the Union.

“There is absolutely no doubt that he’s been a fantastic recruiting sergeant for independence because he has sought to represent and personify it,” Mr Wishart said.

“What he has proven is this is what the Union can do to us.

“He is a result and by-product of Scotland being part of the United Kingdom, that we are so powerless that somebody who is so overwhelmingly rejected in Scotland can be imposed on us against our will.

“He is a symbol now, and will increasingly be seen as a symbol, of our powerlessness within the Union and our inability to influence any sort of leadership issues.

“If the Union can do Boris Johnson to us, it can do practically anything.”

Constitution is bigger than any PM

He made the provocative comments on our weekly podcast, which also features an interview with Ramsay Jones – former prime minister David Cameron’s special adviser on Scottish affairs during the 2014 referendum.

Mr Jones argued people’s position on the independence question should not rest on who is prime minister.

“The constitution and the very future existence of your country is far bigger and more permanent than the temporary incumbent of either 10 Downing Street or Bute House”, he said.

Ramsay Jones.

“Undoubtedly these things have an impact on the polls at the margin and, if we look back over the last 12 months, there was period where it was poll after poll where the Yes vote was ahead.

“That was when the debate was should Scotland have the right to hold one.

“When we then got towards actual elections last year and the debate got into what would independence mean, lo and behold it’s the no side that swings back into the lead.”

Alba and independence division

The prime minister has come under increasing pressure to quit over a series of parties held at Downing Street when the country was in lockdown.

In a special episode looking at what the prime minister’s possible departure could mean for Scottish independence and trust in politics, Mr Wishart also discussed divisions within the ranks of the independence movement.

He hit out at the “intolerant and intemperate” language of Alex Salmond’s Alba Party.

Mr Wishart has frequently been the target of abuse from individuals identifying themselves as Alba supporters.

He said they “exist in the shadows and the dark lands of Twitter” but if the party ever became more mainstream, the Yes movement would be in “serious trouble”.

The Alba Party was approached for comment.

Listen to the full conversation here.

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