Nicola Sturgeon has said Boris Johnson would be a “disaster as prime minister” and has slammed his time as the UK Government’s foreign secretary.
The Scottish First Minister said Mr Johnson’s time at the Foreign Office, between 2016 and 2018, was the “next biggest thing to damage the UK’s international reputation” after Brexit itself.
He is one of 11 candidates to have declared they are standing to succeed Theresa May along with Dominic Raab, Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom, Jeremy Hunt, Rory Stewart, Sajid Javid, James Cleverly, Matt Hancock, Esther McVey and Kit Malthouse.
In an interview with BBC Scotland’s The Nine, Ms Sturgeon said there was “no part of” her wanting to see the former London mayor in Number 10 – even after suggestions it would help her cause.
She told the programme: “I think Boris Johnson would be a disaster as prime minister, he was a disaster as foreign secretary.
“I know I’m a politician and everybody thinks all politicians are dreadfully Machiavellian about these things. I don’t want to see damage done to my country. I don’t actually want to see damage done to the UK.
“Brexit has trashed the UK’s international reputation as well as seriously damaging its economy and other aspects of society.
“But the next biggest thing that has damaged the UK’s international reputation in recent years has been Boris Johnson’s ridiculous tenure as foreign secretary.
“If Boris Johnson is prime minister then yes, I think that will probably make a lot more people in Scotland think it’s time we were an independent country but that’s not the same… I didn’t want Brexit to happen, I don’t want things to happen that damage the interests of Scotland or indeed the wider UK.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon clashed with another PM candidate in Mr Javid who said he would not allow a second Scottish independence referendum.
She made the comments as the Referendums (Scotland) Bill was introduced at Holyrood, setting out the rules and regulations for any future vote.
When asked by the BBC programme about taking Scotland to another vote, with the second half of 2020 already earmarked as a possible time for it to take place, the FM referred to wanting an alternative to a potential hard Brexit.
She said: “We’re on a path that possibly ends with a hard Brexiteer like Boris Johnson or Michael Gove as prime minister and there’s no indication the people of Scotland want to go down that path.
“If we’re not to have it imposed on us then we must a choice of an alternative.
“I want that alternative to be as an independent European nation, but it should be for the people of Scotland to decide our future – not have it decided for us.
“We had to legislate in 2014, we have to legislate again so we’ve got to get this done otherwise a referendum wouldn’t be possible.
“There’s not really a UK Government that’s functioning at the moment. We don’t know who the prime minister is going to be so I’ve judged that rather than waste time on a UK Government that’s in meltdown and chaos right now, we’re going to get on and do our bit of the process.”
She also expressed “no doubt” an independent Scotland would be welcomed in the European Union.
In regards to a second Brexit referendum, Ms Sturgeon added: “Being absolutely frank with you, right now I think it is difficult to predict with certainty what’s going to happen.
“I think the risk of a no-deal Brexit has increased, but I also think the opportunity of having a second referendum that can stop Brexit has also increased.
“I perhaps naively hope that Labour will now get itself into a clear position where it supports a second referendum and we can start to make progress with getting that majority together.”