MATT Hancock has today taken a swipe at Nicola Sturgeon’s fresh calls for Scottish independence – saying the UK is “stronger together” in the fight against Covid.
The Health Secretary gave an address to the nation at Downing Street this evening – and battled back after Scotland’s First Minister vowed to hold a referendum if the SNP wins a majority in May.
Matt Hancock has today used his address to the nation to fight for the UK to stay together Credit: AP:Associated Press
The Health Secretary says the pandemic proves we are ‘stronger together’Credit: Reuters
It comes after Nicola Sturgeon said she’ll hold another vote on independence – even without Westminster’s backingCredit: Reuters
Mrs Sturgeon has labelled Boris Johnson a “coward” – and says she’ll hold the vote even if Westminster tries to block the move.
But today, Mr Hancock told Brits the pandemic has proved the value of sticking together.
“Our health systems across the UK routinely work closely together offering support when it’s needed,” he said.
“From vaccinations to ambulance services, we are stronger together, and the UK is stronger together in the fight against the pandemic.”
He made the claims after Scottish paramedics pushed to crisis point called for extra help at the weekend.
“The pressure on the frontline, I can tell you, is just so relentless,” Mr Hancock said.
“When I talk to colleagues working on Covid wards, they are flat out and stretched to the limit.
“They are doing everything they can.
“I want to say thank you to all those colleagues who are working so hard.
“They are pulling a huge shift, and it’s a duty on all of us to support them.
Cases are finally dropping amid hopes Brits have battled past the peak of the pandemic
Boris Johnson is understood to be flying to Scotland this week after Mrs Sturgeon’s vowCredit: Reuters
“I want to extend that thanks also to our ambulance workers, and in particular the ambulance service staff who stepped up over the weekend when an appeal went out from the Scottish ambulance service for extra help.
“Ambulance services from across the UK stepped up to help.”
He added: “The case for the union is undoubtedly strengthened by the work that we’ve done, and we’ve shown how over this pandemic we’re stronger as one United Kingdom.”
The SNP this weekend set out an 11-point roadmap for taking forward another vote.
And Mrs Sturgeon told BBC One’s Andrew Marr: “I want to have a legal referendum.
“That’s what I’m going to seek the authority of the Scottish people for in May, and if they give me that authority that’s what I intend to do: to have a legal referendum to give people the right to choose.
“That’s democracy. It’s not about what I want or what Boris Johnson wants.”
The PM today refused to say if he would mount a legal challenge to a second referendum if Sturgeon does press ahead with another ballot.
Instead, the Prime Minister highlighted the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine as being a prime example of the “strengths and advantages” of the United Kingdom.
However, he is understood to be concerned enough to fly to Scotland this week amid claims he’ll “make an impassioned plea for Scots to reject narrow separatism, and hail the benefits of being in the UK”.
Speaking at a vaccination site in north London today, Mr Johnson said: “The whole UK is going through a pandemic.
“I think what the people of the UK want to see is everybody focusing on beating that pandemic, which we are, rolling out the vaccine, and getting ready to bounce back from that pandemic and have the strongest possible economic recovery.
“I think people also can see everywhere in the UK the visible benefits of our wonderful union.”