General election 2019: Boris Johnson claims Scotland ‘paralysed’ by SNP

Boris Johnson

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The prime minister launched the Scottish Conservative manifesto at an event in Inverkeithing in Fife

Boris Johnson has “guaranteed” there will not be a Scottish independence referendum if the Conservatives win the forthcoming general election.

The prime minister claimed Scotland had been “paralysed” by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP over the past decade.

And he pledged that any request to hold indyref2 would be rejected with “no negotiation”.

He made the promise as he launched the Scottish Conservative manifesto ahead of the election on 12 December.

Speaking at the event in Inverkeithing, Mr Johnson ruled out allowing either a second Brexit vote or a fresh Scottish independence referendum if the Conservatives are forced to seek support from other parties to stay in power after the election.

The manifesto, entitled No To Indyref2, also outlines an oil and gas sector deal which the Conservatives say will help to protect more than 100,000 jobs in Scotland that rely on the industry.

It also pledges:

  • More than £3.1bn for Scottish public services as a result of the Barnett consequentials from Conservative commitments in England
  • A review of alcohol duty to back Scottish whisky and gin producers
  • A “clear commitment” to leave the Common Fisheries Policy in December 2020 and to “take back control of our fishing waters as an independent coastal state”
  • Quadrupling the number of seasonal agricultural workers to 10,000
  • Permanent tax mitigation from having to pay the Scottish rate of income tax for armed forces personnel based in or resident in Scotland

Writing in the foreword to the document, Mr Johnson argued that Scotland had been “trapped like a lion in a cage” for the past decade.

And he said the country needed to move on from talk of a further referendum in order to “restore confidence and certainty to businesses and families” and to allow politicians to instead focus on improving public services.

He added: “You have been paralysed by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP who simply refuse to accept your decision to keep our United Kingdom together. And that is why this election is so essential.

“If the outcome of this election is a strong Conservative majority government, then I can guarantee that we will reject any request from the SNP government to hold an independence referendum. There will be no negotiation – we will mark that letter return to sender and be done with it.

“You already made your decision five years ago, when two million Scots said no to independence. Nicola Sturgeon promised you this was a once-in-a-generation decision and I will hold her to that.”

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Nicola Sturgeon argues that Scotland must have the right to determine its own future

Mr Johnson also insisted that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was prepared to do a “shady backroom deal with Nicola Sturgeon to get into government” if there was a hung parliament after the election, and that “the price of that deal will be an independence referendum in 2020”.

And he claimed in his speech that he “understood” the SNP leader had confirmed in an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil that she wanted an independent Scotland to “rejoin the EU, to join the euro”.

However, the SNP wants Scotland to continue using the pound in the years after independence before establishing its own separate currency, and Ms Sturgeon did not say during the interview that she wanted to join the euro.

Ms Sturgeon also told the interviewer that she was confident that an independent Scotland could rejoin the EU on a “relatively quick” timescale and insisted that it is “not true to say we would have had to establish an independent currency before joining the European Union.”

Mr Corbyn has repeatedly denied that he would offer a referendum in return for SNP support – but Ms Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister and the SNP leader, says he would have little choice if he wants to be prime minister.

Ms Sturgeon has said she wants to hold an independence referendum next year

But she has also said that the formal consent of the UK government would be needed to ensure its legality was “beyond doubt” – as was the case ahead of the 2014 referendum, when Scottish voters opted to remain in the UK by 55% to 45%.

Labour has said it would not seek to block a second referendum if there is a pro-independence majority after the next Holyrood election in 2021.

The Liberal Democrats have proposed a federal United Kingdom, and have said they would not allow a second independence referendum during the next parliament.

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