Boris Johnson faces Scottish independence referendum calls at final PMQs

The Prime Minister replied that Scotland was protected by the ‘massive fiscal firepower’ of the UK Treasury.

20 July 2022

Boris Johnson faced a barrage of calls from the SNP for a second Scottish independence referendum at his final Prime Minister’s Questions.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, meanwhile, claimed the people of Scotland will remember Mr Johnson’s premiership as “shameful” and “disgraceful”.

The calls for a second referendum come as Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has launched a series of papers aimed at making a fresh case for the nation to leave the UK.

John McNally (Falkirk) told the House: “Since 2014, the Tory party have had more prime ministers than we have had referendums.”

He asked: “Does the Prime Minister believe in our democracy and will he respect the people of Scotland’s right to self-determination?”

Mr Johnson replied: “I think that the people of Scotland do not frankly want to be talking about constitutional issues and another referendum when the issues before the country, the cost of living, the educational issues that we have discussed, drugs, crime, I think they are far more pressing.”

General Election 2019
Prime Minister Boris Johnson amongst the whisky stills at the Roseisle Distillery in Scotland near Moray (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Inverclyde MP Ronnie Cowan compared the UK’s slow economic growth with other OECD nations, asking: “Why should Scotland not be afforded the same opportunity to seek prosperity through being a sovereign independent nation standing as an equal among other equal nations?”

The Prime Minister replied that Scotland was protected by the “massive fiscal firepower” of the UK Treasury.

SNP deputy Westminster leader Kirsten Oswald said Scotland was “paying a high price for his disastrous hard Brexit imposed against the wishes of Scottish voters”.

She added: “It is time to end this democracy denial Prime Minister, Scotland can’t afford to stay shackled to this crumbling union and Tory governments that we don’t vote for.”

Mr Johnson replied: “This is the country that secured furlough, that delivered the vaccine across the whole of the UK, while the SNP gets on with overtaxing to the tune £900 million, that is what they are overtaxing in Scotland, and we had a referendum in 2014.”

The SNP Westminster leader Mr Blackford told MPs of Scotland’s successes: “Our NHS is the best performing in the United Kingdom, and education standards under the SNP are moving in the right direction.”

Second independence paper launch
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks at a press conference at Bute House in Edinburgh to launch a second independence paper (Andrew Milligan/PA)

He added: “Let us not forget, the Prime Minister is still under investigation because he can’t be trusted to tell the truth.

“Shameful, disgraceful, and a complete waste of Scotland’s time. This is how the people of Scotland will remember this Prime Minister.

“Isn’t it the case that the Prime Minister and his Government should have had his last day a long time ago?

“Quite simply, Downing Street is no place for a lawbreaker.”

Boris Johnson replied: “The personal abuse stuff, I think he is talking a lot of tosh.

“When he is retired to his croft, which may be all too soon, I hope he will reflect on his long-running campaign to break up the greatest country in the world.”

The UK Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on whether a second independence referendum could be held without Westminster’s backing, following proposals published by the First Minister.

Ms Sturgeon intends to hold a referendum on October 19 2023, but the UK’s highest court will consider if this would be in Holyrood’s legislative competence.

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