Nicola Sturgeon has hit out at reports the Prime Minister called devolution a “disaster” and “Tony Blair’s biggest mistake”.
In a call to north England Conservative MPs, Boris Johnson said no more powers will be passed to the Scottish Parliament from Westminster under his leadership, according to reports.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hit back at the comments, claiming the Tories are a “threat” to Holyrood.
Addressing a group of Tory MPs representing northern constituencies from self-isolation, the Prime Minister said Scotland’s parliament had been a “disaster”, according to The Sun.
Mr Johnson is reported to have said “devolution has been a disaster north of the border” and it was “Tony Blair’s biggest mistake”.
Admitting he thought it was a good idea when he was Mayor of London, he told MPs he did not currently “see a case” handing down more powers from Westminster to the nations.
The comments have sparked a social media row, with Ms Sturgeon suggesting the comments show a lack of support for devolution within the Conservative party.
She said: “Worth bookmarking these comments for the next time Tories say they’re not a threat to the powers of the Scottish Parliament or, even more incredibly, that they support devolving more powers.
“The only way to protect and strengthen the Scottish Parliament is with independence.”
Worth bookmarking these PM comments for the next time Tories say they’re not a threat to the powers of the Scottish Parliament – or, even more incredibly, that they support devolving more powers. The only way to protect & strengthen @ScotParl is with independence. https://t.co/Hk7DqoFeuY
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) November 16, 2020
Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, disagreed with the Prime Minister’s comments but hit out at Ms Sturgeon’s “obsession” with independence.
He said: “Devolution has not been a disaster.
“The SNP’s non-stop obsession with another referendum – above jobs, schools and everything else – has been a disaster.”
Devolution has not been a disaster. The SNP’s non-stop obsession with another referendum – above jobs, schools and everything else – has been a disaster. https://t.co/WEOJubpDVG
— Douglas Ross MP (@Douglas4Moray) November 16, 2020
Mid Scotland and Fife SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth said the issue transcends party politics, and the comments “insult” the generation who have only voted since the Scottish Parliament was formed in 1999.
“When the Prime Minister insults devolution he is insulting more than just SNP voters,” she said.
“He is insulting the vast majority of the people who live and work here and a generation of voters who’ve never known any different.”
When the Prime Minister insults devolution he is insulting more than just SNP voters; he is insulting the vast majority of the people who live & work here & a generation of voters who’ve never known any different. https://t.co/0SYB9YwVXZ
— Jenny Gilruth (@JennyGilruth) November 16, 2020
Boris Johnson was addressing the group of as he seeks to unite the party and prevent backbench rebellions.
The Prime Minister held a video call with around 60 MPs from the Northern Research Group (NRG), which formed over concerns lockdowns were damaging the North of England.
Downing Street did not deny the Prime Minister’s comments.
Instead, a No 10 source said: “The PM has always supported devolution but Tony Blair failed to foresee the rise of separatists in Scotland.
“Leaving the EU means we must strengthen and protect the UK economy with the UK Internal Market Bill.
“Devolution is great – but not when it’s used by separatists and nationalists to break up the UK.”