British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday pledged to unite the U.K. by delivering Brexit and offering over a $300m economic package to the four nations that make up the U.K.
Meeting First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland, Johnson doubled down on efforts to prepare the U.K. for a no-deal Brexit and has put his cabinet on a so-called ‘war footing’. Sturgeon, however, has criticised Johnson’s plans, accusing him of deliberately pursuing a no-deal Brexit.
"The people of Scotland did not vote for this Tory Government, they didn't vote for this new Prime Minister, they didn't vote for Brexit and they certainly didn't vote for a catastrophic no-deal Brexit which Boris Johnson is now planning for," Sturgeon said.
“Boris Johnson has formed a hard-line Tory Government with one aim - to take Scotland and the UK out of the EU without a deal,” Sturgeon added.
"Scotland has been ignored throughout the Brexit process and it is now time for everyone who cares about the future of Scotland to come together to chart our own course and say to the Tories - stop driving our country towards disaster," the Scottish first minister said.
Following the meeting with the prime minister, Sturgeon said she believes Johnson is steering the U.K. towards a no-deal Brexit and that the U.K.’s departure from the EU will have an impact on a possible decision on second Scottish independence referendum. Johnson reportedly told the first minister that the U.K. will leave the bloc on October 31 “come what may”.
On Thursday, the Scottish first minister wrote to the prime minister, informing him that she will give Scotland a second choice on whether they would like to become independent or not and will introduce legislation on a second independence referendum in the Scottish parliament after the summer recess.
Furthermore, on Sunday, Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservative party, said that she does not agree with Johnson’s plan of a no-deal Brexit and that no one would want the U.K. to crash out of the EU with no agreement.
In his first visit to Scotland as prime minister, Johnson announced a $300m financial plan to boost the economies of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland whilst visiting the Faslane naval base and reiterated his desire for a United Kingdom in which all four nations can reside in peace and prosperity.
“Our union is the most successful political and economic union in history. We are a global brand and together we are safer, stronger and more prosperous” Johnson said in his statement, adding, "so as we prepare for our bright future after Brexit, it's vital we renew the ties that bind our United Kingdom”.
"I'm proud to be in Scotland today to make clear that I am a passionate believer in our great union, and I look forward to visiting Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure that every decision I make as prime minister promotes and strengthens our union," Johnson said.
Johnson also signaled that he is opposed to a second Scottish independence referendum, arguing the 2014 vote was a “once in a generation consultation” and that to hold a second now would undermine the confidence that the people have in politicians. The prime minister also said that he was willing to go “extra thousand miles” to reach a deal with the EU but remained adamant that the current deal was dead and the backstop had to be removed for any deal to be reached.
“In our approach to the negotiations we are not going to be aloof, we are not going to be stand-offish, we’re are not going to wait for our friends to come to us. We are going to reach out, we are going to engage and we’re going to ask for obviously very, very profound changes to the current basis for leaving the EU. The present withdrawal agreement is dead, the backstop must go, but once the backstop goes then it might be possible for progress to be made,” Johnson said.
Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU during the 2016 EU referendum with 62% of the population chasing to remain in the bloc and 38% opting out.
Last week, the former foreign secretary appointed what has been described as the most right wing and pro-Brexit cabinet, with Jacob Rees-Mogg the speaker of the House of Commons, Dominic Raab as foreign secretary and Priti Patel as home secretary.
Johnson was elected prime minister on July 23 by the membership of the conservative party after receiving 92,153 votes. He has repeatedly stated that he is in favor of leaving the EU without a deal and that the U.K. will prosper in such a scenario.
By Muhammad Mussa in London