Boris 'running scared' of Scots' amid questions over election visit

Boris Johnson accused of ‘running scared’ of Scottish voters as Scots Tory leader Douglas Ross admits he is ‘not sure’ the Prime Minister will campaign in Scotland ahead of May’s Holyrood elections

  • Ross said today that he was ‘not sure’ Mr Johnson would come north to campaign
  • Scots Tory boss had ‘previously expected’ UK party leader to come to Scotland
  • PM visited Scotland in January, when the coronavirus pandemic was raging

Boris Johnson was accused of being scared of Scottish voters today as the country’s top Tory admitted the Prime Minister may not visit to support his election campaign.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said today that  he was ‘not sure’ if Mr Johnson would come north ahead of the Scottish parliamentary election on May 6. 

Mr Ross, who is himself seeking a Holyrood seat, said he had ‘previously expected’ the UK party leader to come to Scotland.

But in a BBC radio interview today he said the coronavirus pandemic, and restrictions imposed as a result, made it a ‘very different’ type of campaign. 

However, Mr Johnson visited Scotland in January, when the coronavirus pandemic was raging across the UK at a far higher level than it is today. A ‘stay at home’ order was in place, with people told only to make necessary trips.

Responding to Mr Ross’s comments, the SNP Depute Leader Keith Brown said: ‘The fact Boris Johnson is being kept away from Scotland in this campaign, despite previously pledging to visit, shows the Tories know just how unpopular he is with Scottish voters. 

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said today that he was ‘not sure’ if Mr Johnson (pictured yesterday in Cornwall) would come north ahead of the Scottish parliamentary election on May 6.

Mr Ross, who is himself seeking a Holyrood seat, said he had ‘previously expected’ the UK party leader to come to Scotland.

Boris Johnson previously defended his decision to visit Scotland in January (pictured) during lockdown. The Prime Minister said he travelled ‘in my capacity as Prime Minister of the whole country’

Salmond’s Alba Party could STOP Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP gaining an outright majority 

Alex Salmond’s upstart pro-independence Alba Party party could ruin Nicola Sturgeon’s chances of an outright SNP majority in the Scottish parliament election, a new poll suggests today.  

The Savanta ComRes poll for The Scotsman predicts the SNP will return 64 MSPs, one short of the 65 needed for a majority.

The poll predicts the Alba Party will return none – meaning no Holyrood return for Mr Salmond himself. 

But it is forecast to take 3 per cent of the list vote, which would be enough to derail Ms Sturgeon’s hopes of governing alone in Scotland.

The Scottish Greens are expected to win 10 seats and form a pro-independence coalition with the SNP under the poll results. 

The poll predicts the Scottish Conservatives will lose six seats, returning 25 MSPs, while Scottish Labour is predicted to return 23, one down on 2016.

‘We were told just last week by Ruth Davidson that she was ‘ringing the alarm bell’ for the union, but Boris Johnson must not be hearing it as he cannot even bring himself to come to Scotland to make the case. 

‘Running scared of the people of Scotland is becoming a theme within the Tories.’

Mr Johnson is notoriously unpopular in Scotland. A poll last October found that Scots’ ‘loathing’ for him was behind a surge in support for independence

JL Partners found he was even more unpopular than Theresa May and David Cameron when they were leaders. 

Boris Johnson previously defended his decision to visit Scotland in January during lockdown.

The Prime Minister said he travelled ‘in my capacity as Prime Minister of the whole country’ after visiting Glasgow to highlight the UK-wide fight against coronavirus.

His flight from London saw him reported to Police Scotland by separatists, with officers clearing him to undertake the ‘working visit’.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme about the Prime Minister, Mr Ross said: ‘I am not sure he is going to come up.

‘I had previously expected him to come up. Clearly as we continue to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic this whole election is very different.

‘Clearly it is a different election than any of us have experienced before.’

With four weeks to go until polling day, he said ‘we will have to see what happens’.

Mr Ross added: ‘Last time he was up here he was supporting our vaccinators, he was looking at how we are getting the vaccine rolled out across Scotland, the successful scheme across all of the United Kingdom.

‘Now we are in an election campaign it is very different. He wouldn’t be coming up to speak to a big meeting or doing a massive visit as previous leaders have done.

‘It is very different. We have seen all the party leaders in Scotland having to tackle this election in a very different way because we are still living under significant restrictions.’

He said: ‘The Prime Minister is fully in touch with what we are doing here, but he understands it’s my campaign as leader of the Scottish Conservatives, it is our manifesto, he is absolutely behind what we are doing here in Scotland, but he knows our fight is as Scottish Conservatives and he is backing that as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.’

The Scottish Tories are pledging to increase funding for mental health services by hundreds of millions if they win May’s Holyrood election.

Mr Ross has revealed his party’s manifesto for that vote will include a pledge to ensure mental health care gets 10 per cent of the NHS budget.

Currently just over 8 per cent of health service spending goes to this area, the Tory said, adding that increasing it to 10 per cent could increase funding levels by approximately £325 million.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has already called for mental health care to receive a tenth of the NHS budget – with Mr Ross arguing the coronavirus pandemic meant this was the ‘right move at the right time’.

He said there had been a ‘massive impact on individuals’ mental health over the last year’ with the coronavirus lockdown seeing people ‘shut away from our loved ones’ and others staying inside for long periods as they work from home.

Mr Ross said that this was why his party ‘will be putting in our manifesto an increase in funding for mental health services up to 10 per cent of the total health spend in Scotland’.

He told members of the Scottish Parliamentary Journalists’ Association that the Conservatives ‘believe more has to be done and more support has to be given to mental health services’.

Mr Ross said: ‘There was already a problem before we came into this pandemic, I think this pandemic has exacerbated that problem and therefore we need to have the support in place.’

The Tories said this would be part of a ‘package of measures’ that would also look at how exercise could be used to improve mental health, alongside reforms to help people access services and support more quickly.

Mr Ross said: ‘The crucial thing is making sure there is funding available then we would look at the various interventions, measure and projects that could most help people.’

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