Boris Johnson has insisted he is “not aware” of the controversial Cambo oil field proposal and has suggested that safe consumption rooms risk “encouraging people to take more drugs”.
The prime minister was speaking on a visit to Scotland to talk to the police about preparations for the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November.
He told the BBC that he favoured a “tough” approach in responding to Scotland’s record drug death rates, and claimed to have no knowledge of the hugely contentious Cambo oil field proposals, west of Shetland.
Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance has signalled that safe consumption rooms could be progressed after it was confirmed on Friday that a total of 1,339 fatalities last year were attributed to drugs in Scotland in 2020, an increase of 5.9% on 2019.
The death rate is some three-and-a-half times that of the UK as a whole, and also higher than any other European country.
In an interview with the BBC, Mr Johnson was asked about his view on the proposal, with the UK Government having previously blocked a pilot scheme in Glasgow.
He said: “I think that the drugs crisis in this country as a whole, in Scotland in particular, is appalling, and the number of deaths from drugs is utterly tragic, and we have to deal with it.
“And, again, I am more than willing to work with the government of Scotland.”
Pressed on the issue of consumption rooms, he added: “I’ll give you my instincts, okay. I am not in favour, instinctively, of encouraging people to take more drugs.
“What I am in favour of is helping problem addicts off drugs – helping people with problems off dependency.
“But I’m also in favour of a tough approach.”
BBC Scotland political editor Glenn Campbell also quizzed the prime minister on the Cambo proposal, which could produce up to 170 million additional barrels of oil in its first phase, amid claims it would not be compatible with the nation’s climate targets.
Cambo oil field
“I can’t comment on that. We want to move away from… I’m not aware of that particular decision,” he said.
“Let me tell you, that particular decision has not been brought to me.
“What I can tell you is that there are already long periods of two weeks or more when this whole country runs on clean power. That’s what I want.”
The Conservative leader’s trip north had already proved controversial after he rejected an invitation to meet First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at her official Edinburgh residence, Bute House, to discuss the UK’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Asked if Ms Sturgeon had been invited to take part in the COP26 summit, Mr Johnson said: “Of course there is going to be a role for Nicola, for Mark Drakeford, for everybody, in the COP26…
“It’s a huge undertaking by the whole of the UK. Every part of the UK is now working together.”
He added: “I would hope very much that the first minister, along with all her colleagues around the UK, at whatever level in government, will evangelise, will exhort, everybody that she represents to do the needful.”