Boris Johnson has defended “the magic” union between England and Scotland ahead of a week-long holiday north of the border.
The prime minister said Britain’s four-nation bond was one “admired and loved around the world”, amid polling putting support for Scottish independence at 54%.
The comments came as it was confirmed Mr Johnson, his fiancée Carrie Symonds and their son Wilfred would be travelling to Scotland for a “staycation” next week.
His spokesman would not confirm where in Scotland Mr Johnson would be holidaying, but past Conservative prime ministers David Cameron and Margaret Thatcher were known to enjoy breaks in Jura, off the west coast, and Stirlingshire.
Asked about the prime minister’s trip at Monday’s daily briefing, Nicola Sturgeon joked that a joint holiday was not on the cards.
“I’m very glad to hear it’s not been suggested we double up, I think his partner would probably take a dim view of that,” she said.
She added: “I don’t have any plans for a holiday at the moment. I’m pretty fully occupied on what we’re dealing with right now.”
Alister 'the Union' Jack and his team open a new UK Government hub in Edinburgh.
The building will house nearly 3,000 civil servants from 11 departments and, according to Jack, will allow the UK Gov to have an 'expanded and more co-ordinated presence in Scotland' pic.twitter.com/CguR88xiK5
— Dan O'Donoghue (@MrDanDonoghue) August 10, 2020
Mr Johnson’s holiday comes against a backdrop of rising support for independence and turbulence in the Scottish Tories – with Moray MP Douglas Ross becoming the party’s third leader in eight months last week.
Perhaps conscious of the unrest, the prime minister used a visit to a school in London this morning to insist the UK is “better together”.
Mr Johnson said: “The union of the United Kingdom, for me, it’s the greatest political partnership the world has ever seen.
“And I think what people in this country often don’t appreciate is the way in which the UK is seen abroad.
“They don’t see us as England or Wales or Scotland or Northern Ireland, what they see is great British institutions.
“They see amazing British armed services, amazing British diplomacy, overseas aid, British science and technology, British arts, that’s the thing that is admired and loved around the world.
“It would be such a shame to lose the power, the magic of that union. We are much, much stronger and better together than broken up.”
That commitment to the union was firmly on show this morning as Scottish Secretary Alister Jack opened a new UK Government “super-hub” in Edinburgh.
The facility will house nearly 3,000 civil servants from 11 departments.
The case for the union has never been stronger.”
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack
Mr Jack said: “Less than three weeks ago the prime minister came to Scotland to reaffirm his unwavering commitment to strengthening the United Kingdom and the completion of Queen Elizabeth House is a further visible and tangible sign of the UK Government delivering on this.
“As we look forward to ensuring our economy can bounce back after coronavirus, and making the most of new global opportunities outside the EU, the case for the union has never been stronger.
“I very much look forward to seeing the UK Government’s expanded and more co-ordinated presence in Scotland deliver even better services for people and businesses.”