Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon are on a collision course over a second independence referendum
Boris Johnson has invited Nicola Sturgeon for crisis talks on the Union after the SNP leader warned he would be ‘standing in the way of democracy’ if he denies Scotland a second independence referendum.
The SNP fell one seat short of an overall majority in the Scottish parliament elections on Saturday, but the final result still leaves Holyrood with a pro-independence majority.
In her victory speech, a defiant Ms Sturgeon told supporters the result proved a second independence vote was the ‘will of the country’ and said any Westminster politician who stood in the way was ‘picking a fight with the democratic wishes of the Scottish people’.
The pronouncement puts the SNP leader on a collision course with Mr Johnson, who earlier reiterated his refusal to support calls for another referendum, labelling the idea ‘irresponsible’.
In a bid to calm tensions, the PM wrote a letter to Ms Sturgeon arguing the UK was ‘best served when we work together’.
He invited her and other leaders of the devolved administrations to discuss ‘our shared challenges’ in a bid to work together in what he called ‘Team UK’.
He said: ‘I would like to invite you to join me, UK Government colleagues and others at a summit meeting to discuss our shared challenges and how we can work together in the coming months and years to overcome them.
Nicola Sturgeon has insisted the Scottish election results prove a second independence vote is the ‘will of the country’ (Picture: Getty)
‘We will all have our own perspectives and ideas – and we will not always agree – but I am confident that by learning from each other we will be able to build back better, in the interests of the people we serve.’
Mr Johnson did not address the demands by Ms Sturgeon in his letter.
But he did offer to ‘treat Scottish patients in English hospitals and teach Scottish children in English schools’ as part of a UK-wide approach to supporting the Covid-19 recovery.
Mr Johnson said: ‘While the UK’s broad shoulders have supported jobs and businesses the length of the country, we know that economic recovery will be a serious shared responsibility because the pandemic’s damage runs deep.
‘Covid-19 has also posed significant challenges for our public services, from hours of lost school learning, to backlogs in the NHS and courts. Overcoming them will require us to show the same spirit of unity and cooperation that marked our fight against the pandemic.’
Mr Johnson has sent a similar letter to Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford and Northern Ireland joint first ministers Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill.
In Wales, Mr Drakfeford defied expectations to win a working Senedd majority.
In the wake of his victory, he called on the PM to ‘reset relationships’ with the nations of the UK.
He urged the PM to carry out a ‘serious examination of the way in which we can create the machinery that will allow us to work together in the future’.
‘Not an approach that thinks flying more Union Jacks at the tops of buildings, but proper, respectful relationships that recognise that sovereignty is now dispersed across four parliaments in which we choose to pool it for common purposes,’ he said.
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].
For more stories like this, check our news page.