Boris Johnson attacks ‘crazy’ SNP as he launches Scottish Tory manifesto

By Katrine Bussey, PA Scotland Political Editor

Boris Johnson has ruled out allowing either a second Brexit vote or a fresh Scottish independence referendum in 2020 if the Conservatives are forced to seek support from other parties to stay in power after December 12.

The PM travelled to Scotland to launch his party’s Scottish election manifesto  and insisted that permitting either such ballot to take place would be a red line for him.

His Labour rival Jeremy Corbyn is already planning to have a second Brexit referendum in a bid to resolve the deadlock over the UK’s European Union departure, while there are concerns the Labour leader would allow a second independence vote to take place if he needed SNP support to get into Downing Street.

Hitting out at the prospect of such a deal, Mr Johnson said that Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister who is not standing in this election, was in effect running to be deputy prime minister.

But Mr Johnson hit out at “crazy” SNP policies on Europe, as he vowed he would “protect our magnificent union”.

Speaking at the manifesto launch in North Queensfery, Fife, the PM said: “I’m a passionate unionist.

“I think it is a good thing for Scotland, it is a wonderful, wonderful thing.”

Describing the United Kingdom as a “brand which is understood around the world”, he added: “It would be a tragic mistake in my view to throw that away, to smash that up.”

Tory analysis has already suggested holding fresh referendums on Brexit and Scotland’s place in the UK next year would cost £155 million.

Asked if he would rule out holding either such ballot if he was forced to seek support from other parties to stay in Downing Street, he said he “certainly” would.

“It’s not the way forward now,” the Prime Minister said.

He insisted it would be “absolutely farcical” for fresh votes to be held, warning this would damage the economy and have “disastrous consequences”, condemning the “waste of time, the jobs not created, the investment forestalled”.

Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw also insisted his party would not “betray” those who had voted No in 2014 by holding another independence referendum.

Having a second referendum on that, or on Brexit, would be “brutal” for the country, he said.

“The atmosphere would be brutal,” the Scottish Conservative said.

“We don’t need that in Scotland, we need to put that behind us.”

He spoke out after the PM questioned whether the Labour leader would be “tough enough” to refuse the SNP leader on her demands for a second independence vote.

Mr Johnson was clear: “We don’t want another referendum on Scotland, we rule it out because we don’t want to destroy the most successful political partnership of the last 300 years.”

As well as ruling out a second independence ballot, the Scottish Conservative manifesto pledged £3.3 billion of funding for the NHS north of the border by 2023 as a consequence of further spending in England, as well as £1.4 billion for Scottish education.

The alternative to his “one nation Conservative government” would be a “Corbyn/Sturgeon coalition”, he  said, as he hit out at the SNP’s opposition to Brexit.

The border between Scotland and England just north of Berwick-upon-Tweed (Danny Lawson/PA)

“The SNP would campaign to get back into the EU with their crazy policy,” the PM said, adding this would see a “border put up at Berwick”.

He spoke after Mr Carlaw appealed to supporters of the Union to vote Conservative on December 12.

He told them to “forget Scottish Labour”, saying they had “abandoned the Union”.

But Mr Carlaw told them: “Lend us your vote, because this is important.

“Let’s make Nicola listen for once and together we can move on as a country.”