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Boris Johnson has said Keir Starmer could only come to power in a "crackpot coalition" between Labour and the Scottish National Party.
The prime minister made the comments at a Scottish Conservatives event at the Tory party conference. He had not been scheduled to attend the event and appears to have made a surprise appearance in order to take a potshot at Nicola Sturgeon's party.
At one point the PM was greeted with chants of "Boris, Boris, Boris".
“Do you want, can you possibly imagine, another future for this country if we were consigned to yet another crackpot coalition?” he told attendees.
“A crackpot coalition between the Scottish Nationalist [sic] Party and the Labour Party?”
The PM's comments come as he seeks to quash demands from the SNP for a second independence referendum.
In August, the SNP lost its majority in the Scottish Parliament, but was still able to form a power-sharing government with the pro-independence Greens.
It is estimated around 88% of Green Party members voted for the deal, marking the part's first time in government. Nearly 95% of SNP members voted in favour of the deal.
The SNP has consistently claimed its large number of seats, the fact that pro-independence parties gained a majority of seats in this year's election, and the fact Scotland voted to remain in the EU as justifications for calling a second referendum.
Despite the British government publicly stating its intention to protect the union, senior Conservative Michael Gove – the secretary of state for levelling up, housing, and communities – has recently said an independence vote will happen if public wants it.
“If it is the case that there is clearly a settled will in favour of a referendum, then one will occur," he said.
During Johnson's address to the Scottish Tories, the PM went on to say that the SNP’s successes will soon come to an end, using an unusual metaphor that seemed to refer to its former leader Alex Salmond.
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“I believe that the gilt is coming off the gingerbread at the Scottish National [Party], the gilt is coming off the gingerbread,” he said.
Johnson praised the Scottish Conservatives – who matched their best results in the Scottish parliament elections with 31 seats in 2021.
“Thank you, all Scottish Conservatives,” he said. “You’re doing a fantastic job.”
Earlier this year, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross came under fire after comments he made in 2017 about Gypsy and Traveller communities resurfaced.
At an event, he was asked what he would do as prime minister, and in response he said he would introduce “tougher enforcement against Gypsy Travellers”.
The prime minister’s hotly anticipated speech at the Conservative party conference is scheduled for Wednesday at 11am.
It is expected to focus on “levelling-up” the country, and seeking to “build back better” for Britain post-pandemic.
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