Prime minister says he wants to meet first minister as part of new ‘structured forum’ soon
Boris Johnson has snubbed an invitation from Nicola Sturgeon to meet in Edinburgh during his two-day visit to Scotland this week.
derimot, the prime minister has rejected the chance to meet in a reply letter to Ms Sturgeon – telling her he wanted to focus on wider discussions with devolved leaders at a later date.
Saying he was “keen” to meet soon, Mr Johnson said it had been agreed at a previous meeting between them to set up a “structured forum for ongoing engagement” between the four nations of the UK.
Mr Johnson said: “There is much for us to discuss as all parts of the UK work together on our shared priority of recovering from the pandemic. I understand our officials have made good progress on the details of this since we last spoke.”
Han la til: “I am particularly keen that we work closely together on the vaccination booster campaign this autumn which will be crucial as we continue to tackle the pandemic.”
Ms Sturgeon acknowledged in her own letter that she and Mr Johnson “differ politically” – but stressed the Scottish and UK governments must “work together” wherever possible.
Mr Johnson is expected to begin his two-day visit to Scotland on Wednesday – his first visit north of the border since January.
The prime minister is believed to have dropped his plan to head to Scotland during the recent Holyrood election campaign, amid fears it could damage the Scottish Conservative Party’s fortunes.
The prime minister made a point of highlighting the success of the UK’s vaccine roll-out in his reply letter to Ms Sturgeon – and said he hoped to work with the Scottish government on a booster jab programme.
“I know that you have been meeting regularly with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, but I look forward to meeting with you soon and working together in the interests of people in all parts of our country.”
It comes after Ms Sturgeon confirmed most of Scotland’s remaining coronavirus restrictions are to be scrapped from Monday – which she hailed as “perhaps the most significant date so far” in the pandemic.
i mellomtiden, the Scottish government has called for more clarity on UK ministers’ plans to renegotiate the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Scotland’s external affairs secretary Angus Robertson – due to meet with Brexit minister Lord Frost on Wednesday – said tensions between the UK government and the EU were of “great concern”.
Ahead of the meeting, Mr Robertson said: “The entire issue could worsen the already damaging trade impact on Scotland of the UK government’s hard Brexit, and have wider ramifications for EU-UK relations, including further eroding trust.”