Tony Blair: Boris ‘Not the one to save the Union’
Tony Blair accused the prime minister on Sunday of not being ‘the one to save the Union’ in a wide-ranging interview with Sky News discussing coronavirus and foreign policy.
The former prime minister also lambasted Labour’s lack of opposition to the SNP in Scotland for the past decade.
Blair’s remarks come as Boris Johnson toured Scotland in a bid to bolster support for the Union.
The visit, conducted amid mounting concern that the government is losing Scottish support, unsurprisingly did not impress Nicola Sturgeon who accused Boris of ‘championing and celebrating’ the coronavirus pandemic.
The prime minister has emphasised the UK government’s economic support for Scotland during lockdown, pointing to the 900,000 Scottish jobs kept in stasis by the furlough scheme.
With the decline of North Sea oil as a revenue raiser for Holyrood, the economic case remains a powerful tool in Downing Street’s arsenal of unionist messages.
The prime minister is, however, all too familiar with an economic message falling on deaf ears in the face of a populist tide of sovereignty claims and nationalist values.
The SNP have praised the Sturgeon’s performance during the pandemic, attempting to draw a contrast with Boris’ bluster and chaos south of the border, despite the Backbencher revealing that the SNP charged the taxpayer over £16k for a ‘support group’.
This is despite Scotland making many of the same mistakes as England such as failing to adequately protect care homes.
The prime minister is determined, however, not to be the man who lost the Union. He bestowed the title ‘Minister for the Union’ upon himself when he entered Downing Street a year ago, yet Brexit and coronavirus have disrupted efforts to galvanise the United Kingdom’s bond.
Boris is unpopular north of the border and the Conservatives lost seats in Scotland at the last general election, despite romping home nationwide.
Scotland’s views on the matter of independence are increasingly reflected in the polls: a ‘yes’ vote for independence now leads by eight points according to one pollster and other polls show a clear lead for the SNP in the lead up to next year’s Scottish Parliament elections.
The prime minister’s dash to Scotland reflects an increasing frantic attempt to stem this anti-unionist tide.