Johnson heads to Scotland as no-deal Brexit concerns grow

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visiting HMS Vengeance at HM Naval Base Clyde in Scotland yesterday. He is on a tour of Britain to announce new funding for so-called “growth deals” across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which provide i
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visiting HMS Vengeance at HM Naval Base Clyde in Scotland yesterday. He is on a tour of Britain to announce new funding for so-called “growth deals” across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which provide investment for local businesses and projects.PHOTO: DPA

LONDON/FASLANE • Mr Boris Johnson made his first visit to Scotland as Britain's Prime Minister yesterday, as his Conservative Party's leader there said she would refuse to support a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Johnson said there was every chance of striking a new Brexit deal with the European Union and he wanted a new trade deal, too.

"What we want to do is to make it absolutely clear that the backstop is no good, it's dead, it's got to go. The Withdrawal Agreement is dead, it's got to go. But there is scope to do a new deal," he said during a visit to a naval base in Scotland, as part of a tour of Britain to announce extra funding for local communities.

"What we want, need to do, is to build a new partnership with all the things that matter to us, sharing cooperation on defence, on security, on intelligence, cultural, scientific collaboration, everything that you would expect," he said.

"At the core of it all a new free trade deal that allows us to take back control of our tariffs and our regulations and to do things differently where we want to."

He also ruled out another referendum on Scottish independence.

"This was a once-in-a-lifetime, once-in-a-generation thing, everybody was told that," he said. "It was on that basis that they cast their votes and I think it would be totally wrong now to break that promise to the people of Scotland and the UK and have another referendum."

Scotland rejected independence by a 55-45 per cent majority in 2014, but then voted to stay in the EU at the 2016 Brexit referendum, fuelling calls for a second independence vote from those who argue it is being taken out of the bloc against its wishes.

"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," Mr Johnson said in a statement ahead of the visit.

"So as we prepare for our bright future after Brexit, it's vital we renew the ties that bind our UK."

His promise to deliver Brexit, with or without a deal by Oct 31, has put him at odds with some in his party who oppose a "no deal" exit - including its Scottish leader Ruth Davidson.

Last week, Scotland's nationalist leader Nicola Sturgeon wrote to Mr Johnson telling him his Brexit plans would hurt the Scottish economy and that she would continue preparations for a second independence referendum.

Mr Johnson is also planning a trip to Wales to meet farmers and to Northern Ireland to discuss ongoing talks to restore its devolved executive.

He will use the visit to announce £300 million (S$508 million) of new funding for so-called "growth deals" across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which provide investment for local businesses and projects.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2019, with the headline 'Johnson heads to Scotland as no-deal Brexit concerns grow'. Print Edition | Subscribe