LONDON – Boris Johnson has made his first visit to Scotland as the United Kingdom’s prime minister in a bid to bolster the union.
He was booed as he arrived at Bute House in Edinburgh on Monday for talks with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and left through the back door after their meeting.
During an earlier visit to Faslane naval base near Glasgow Johnson ruled out holding another referendum on Scottish independence from the rest of the UK.
He said the vote in 2014 was “once in a generation” and that there is “no reason” for Scots to go back to the polls.
Sturgeon has called for a second independence referendum and said it is justified because of the Brexit vote.
Johnson has insisted the UK will leave the European Union by 31 October with or without a deal.
On Monday, he rejected a previous statement by Michael Gove, the minister in charge of no-deal Brexit planning, that the UK leaving the European Union without an agreement was the most likely outcome.
In a televised interview, Johnson said: “My assumption is that we can get a new deal, we’re aiming for a new deal.
“But, of course, Michael is absolutely right that it’s responsible for any government to prepare for a no deal if we absolutely have to.”
He reasserted his previous claim that a no deal Brexit would be a million to one chance.
Johnson has vowed to go “the extra thousand miles” to negotiate a new agreement with Brussels.
“Look, my approach is to be very outward-going,” he said earlier during the trip.
“I don’t want the UK to be aloof or hanging back. I want us to engage, to hold out the hand, to go the extra mile, the extra thousand miles.”
He described the deal negotiated by his predecessor Theresa May, which was rejected by British MPs three times, as “dead” and added that “it’s got to go.”
Sturgeon has pledged to fight against a no-deal exit and said it would cost 100,000 jobs and trigger another recession.
Voters in Scotland overwhelming backed remaining in the EU in the 2016 referendum.
Speaking ahead of her meeting with Johnson, Sturgeon said: “The people of Scotland did not vote for this Tory government, they didn’t vote for this new prime minister, they didn’t vote for Brexit and they certainly didn’t vote for a catastrophic no-deal Brexit which Boris Johnson is now planning for.”
Johnson announced £300m of funding to be divided between Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, for projects to boost their economies.
He also met with Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who described their talks as “incredibly constructive.”
She said in a statement: “We covered a number of areas, talking about Brexit, the need to make sure we can get a deal across the line, and I support the prime minister wholeheartedly in getting that deal.
“We talked about how we can continue to have the UK government deliver in Scotland, for Scots, and how we can build on that delivery, and also how we can continue to take on Nicola Sturgeon and oppose her obsession with another independence referendum.”