Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the experience of the Covid-19 pandemic underlined the advantages of being a part of the uk as he prepares to go to Scotland on Thursday to confront growing support for an additional independence referendum.
The bonds holding together the uk are severely strained over the last five years by Brexit, the government’s handling of the pandemic, and repeated calls by the Scottish National Party for a replacement referendum on independence.
Ahead of his visit, Johnson said that Scotland as a neighborhood of the uk gained access to a coronavirus vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and that they are being administered by their shared soldiers , who are creating 80 new vaccine centres in Scotland.
"We have pulled together to defeat the virus," Johnson said. "Mutual cooperation across the united kingdom throughout this pandemic is strictly what the people of Scotland expect and it's what I even have been focussed on."
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Wednesday criticised Boris Johnson’s planned trip to Scotland, questioning whether his reasons for visiting are "really essential" and arguing it sets a nasty example to the general public .
Sturgeon, who runs Scotland's semi-autonomous government, is hoping a robust performance by her Scottish National Party in an election for the country's devolved parliament in May would give her the mandate to carry a second referendum.
If Scotland voted for independence it might mean the uk would lose a few third of its landmass and almost a tenth of its population - even as the world's sixth-biggest economy is grappling with the impact of Brexit.
Boris Johnson, who would need to comply with a replacement referendum, has said there's no need for a replacement vote after independence was rejected by Scottish voters in 2014.