Politicians across the spectrum reacted angrily after Boris Johnson dismissed decentralization as a “disaster north of the border.”
During a conversation with Zoom with about 60 Northern Conservative MPs on Monday night, the prime minister described the transfer as “Tony Blair’s biggest mistake.”
While Downing Street later stressed that the remarks were about poor governance by the Scottish National Party, Johnson̵
Mr Blair, the chief architect of the devolution, pledged a 1997 manifesto to hold referendums, with Scotland and Wales voting for their own parliaments and trade unionists and nationalists in Northern Ireland forming a coalition to share power following the Good Friday agreement. 1998
Scottish Prime Minister Nicholas Sturgeon responded on Twitter, saying: “It is worth noting these comments in the Prime Minister next time the Tories say they do not pose a threat to the powers of the Scottish Parliament – or, even more unlikely, that they support the transfer of more powers. The only way to protect and strengthen @ScotParl is through independence. “
It is worth noting these comments by the Prime Minister the next time the Tories say they do not pose a threat to the powers of the Scottish Parliament – or, even more unlikely, that they support the transfer of more power. The only way to protect and strengthen @ScotParl is independence. https://t.co/Hk7DqoFeuY
– Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) November 16, 2020
Johnson called MPs from Downing Street, where he isolated himself after coming into contact with an MP who later proved positive for coronavirus as he tried to “reset” his leadership after a turbulent year of coronavirus and a fight at No. 10.
The Tory MPs he spoke to were part of the Northern Research Group (NRG), which was formed out of fears that the coronavirus blockade was unfairly damaging the north of England.
Referring to expectations that the departure of Assistant Dominic Cummings last week would signal a less abrasive conservative administration, UNPMINSTER SNP leader Ian Blackford tweeted: “Oh, darling, oh, so much for the new softer respectful approach. , but this did not continue. [Johnson’s] the attitude explains the seizure of power of the internal market bill, the transfer of the decision to dismantle our parliament under attack. We can stop his ball, it’s called independence. “
Ian Murray, Scotland’s Secretary of State for Labor in the Shadows, insisted that “the transfer is one of the proudest achievements of labor”.
“This confirms that Boris Johnson does not believe in decentralization and would jeopardize the future of the United Kingdom. His government had to work in partnership with delegated governments during this crisis. Instead, people in the UK pay the price for its failures. “
Anas Sarwar of the Scottish Labor, who returned to Holyrood’s office on Monday as shadow minister of the constitution, wrote on Twitter: “Boris Johnson is a disaster, not a transfer. The truth is that he is the biggest threat to the UK. In the midst of a pandemic, when people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake, both our governments must focus on uniting people and going through this crisis. “
Boris Johnson is a disaster, not a transfer.
The truth is that he is the biggest threat to the UK.
In the midst of a pandemic, when people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake, both our governments need to focus on gathering people and getting us through this crisis. https://t.co/71jbueEH3G
– Anas Sarwar (@AnasSarwar) November 16, 2020
A Tory MP on the Zoom call, who said Johnson had labeled NRG lawmakers for his “Praetorian Guard”, told the Guardian: “[Johnson] was in fantastic shape, he took the whole meeting upright. He was very lively, bouncing. He was clearly not a man in poor health. He said he wanted us to open as much as we could on December 2, but that we had to admit it [coronavirus] it was a dangerous, nasty disease that we had to get under control.
“He said there were two ways: continuing mass testing, and second, of course, the vaccine. He said we should put the vaccine in as many hands as possible.
“He was very positive about the northern economy and fully understood the need for promotion. He was particularly optimistic about transport and e-infrastructure, calling them great equalizers. “
A Downing Street source did not deny that Johnson had told lawmakers that the transfer was a disaster in Scotland. “The prime minister has always supported the transfer of decentralized power, but Tony Blair has failed to predict the rise of separatists in Scotland,” the source said. “Devolution is great – but not when it is used by separatists and nationalists to break up the UK.”
The source said the prime minister had said that leaving the EU “means we need to strengthen and protect the British economy by [internal markets bill]”.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, who has repeatedly spoken out against Westminster’s policies since his election in July, seems to contradict Johnson in part, saying: “Devolution was not a catastrophe. The SNP’s constant obsession with another referendum – over jobs, schools and everything else – is a disaster. “