Prime Minister Boris Johnson is poised to travel to Scotland as he continues to battle for survival in the wake of the “partygate” scandal.
The Conservative leader is expected to visit the Edinburgh area on the first stop of a “levelling up” tour of the UK, amid a storm of controversy over allegations he flouted his own lockdown rules by attending gatherings at 10 Downing Street and Whitehall
It will be the first time he has travelled north of the border since Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross called on him to quit, but it is understood the pair will not meet.
However, Mr Johnson has been invited to attend the Scottish Tory conference in Aberdeen, which will be held on March 18 and 19.
Mr Johnson’s visit comes just days after he was contacted by police investigating events at Downing Street.
On Monday, he is due to visit a manufacturing site to meet workers using advanced technology to revolutionise processes, and will also see research and development projects funded by the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.
Speaking ahead of the visit, the prime minister said: “I’m getting out of London this week and taking a simple message with me – this government is getting on with the job of uniting and levelling up the country.
‘Changing the rules of the game’
“Access to good healthcare, a good education, skilled work, reliable transport – none of this should depend on where you live.
“We’re changing the rules of the game to put fairness back at the heart of the system and focusing on the priorities that really matter to people.
“This is our mission and we’re getting on with delivering it.”
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar seized on the Tory leader’s visit, which also comes amid the threat of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Boris Johnson is not fit to be Prime Minister and he is single the biggest threat to the future of the UK,” said Mr Sarwar.
‘Devoid of any principles’
“If the Scottish Tories welcome him back with open arms, it will confirm once and for all that they are a party devoid of any principles.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “The prime minister should be making the shorter trip to the Palace to offer the Queen his resignation.
“The failure of Scottish Conservative MPs to hand in letters to the 1922 Committee shows contempt for their constituents.
“Every minute Boris Johnson remains prime minister is an insult to all those who lost a loved one, adhered to the rules, educated their children at home, went to work in care homes or applauded from the doorstep.”