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Johnson avoids Sturgeon in Scotland visit amid simmering dispute over Indyref2

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The political stand-off between Nicola Sturgeon (L) and Boris Johnson (R) is intensifying

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has started his second visit to Scotland this year, but crucially he has declined an invitation by Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, for a meeting at her official residence.

During his two-day visit the PM is expected to meet police officers and visit renewable energy projects in Scotland.

Incidentally, the Labor Party leader, Keir Starmer, is also in Scotland for a two-day visit, beginning in Glasgow.

 While this is Johnson’s second trip to Scotland this year – he last visited in January – it is the first since the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) won a resounding victory at the Holyrood election in May.

The SNP led by Sturgeon won on the mandate of demanding and holding a fresh referendum on Scottish independence.

However, the ruling Tories are adamant they will not allow a new referendum, possibly for not another generation.

That deep political disagreement – bordering on conflict – forms the backdrop to Johnson’s latest visit to Scotland. 

Sturgeon took to the social media platform Twitter to invite Johnson to her official residence in Bute House to discuss “Covid recovery” but the PM reportedly declined her offer and instead suggested a meeting with other first ministers at a later date.

I understand the PM will visit Scotland later this week. Since this would be our first opportunity to meet in person for a while, I’ve invited him to Bute House to discuss Covid/recovery. We differ politically, but our governments must work together where we can. pic.twitter.com/Fo4N4nr2oN

— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) August 2, 2021

The PM’s refusal to meet Sturgeon for a one-on-one meeting, instead proposing to meet her as part of a group with other first ministers from the UK’s constituent nations, will inevitably be interpreted as a sign of weakness on Johnson’s part.

The BBC’s political correspondent in Scotland, Philip Sam, wrote in an analysis that Johnson had avoided a meeting with Sturgeon, opting instead for a “summit of leaders from around the UK” so that he can perform the comfortable role of “magnanimous host”.  

For her part, Sturgeon said she believed people would find it “a bit odd and a bit strange” that the PM had declined a meeting.

Addressing the media, Scotland’s First Minister said she did not feel "snubbed" by Johnson, but that it would have constituted the first opportunity to sit down and have a "face to face chat", describing the move as a "missed opportunity - but that's on him".

 


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