Boris Johnson spurns Nicola Sturgeon’s summit invitation

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The last time Mr Johnson met Ms Sturgeon at Bute House in 2019, he was booed by a nationalist crowd and had to leave by a back door - Jane Barlow/PA Wire
The last time Mr Johnson met Ms Sturgeon at Bute House in 2019, he was booed by a nationalist crowd and had to leave by a back door - Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Boris Johnson has snubbed Nicola Sturgeon by turning down her invitation to meet during his trip to Scotland.

The SNP leader wrote to the Prime Minister on Monday suggesting a summit at her Bute House residence in Edinburgh, where he was met with boos from nationalist crowds and left by a back door the last time he visited.

However, Mr Johnson rejected the offer on Tuesday, instead suggesting a meeting with Ms Sturgeon and the First Ministers of Northern Ireland and Wales at a later date.

“The UK Government is working closely with the devolved Scottish government on a variety of different issues,” Mr Johnson’s reply to Ms Sturgeon stated.

“I look forward to meeting with you soon and working together in the interests of people in all parts of our country.”

UK Government sources are understood to have been unhappy at images of Mr Johnson’s last meeting with Ms Sturgeon at Bute House, in the summer of 2019, as it appeared she was receiving a visiting dignitary rather than the leader of the UK.

The public nature of Ms Sturgeon’s invitation, which she publicised on her Twitter account, would have also ensured SNP supporters turned up to heckle the Prime Minister again.

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Stephen Kerr, the Scottish Tory MSP, suggested that Ms Sturgeon had been playing politics with the invitation.

It is expected that the Prime Minister will spend two days north of the border, as part of plans to make UK ministers more visible in Scotland and boost the Union.

“You may well think the late timing and public publishing of Sturgeon’s request for a meeting was because they knew the PM had a full itinerary and would have to reject it,” Mr Kerr said. “I couldn’t possibly comment.”

It emerged this week that Ms Sturgeon is preparing to relaunch her campaign for independence next month at the SNP conference, which will be heavily focussed on separation.

The UK Government has repeatedly said that it will not allow a second independence referendum to go ahead.

In her original letter, Ms Sturgeon had said Mr Johnson’s visit would be their “first opportunity to meet in person for a while” and that she wanted to discuss recovery from the pandemic.

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