BORIS Johnson was ‘caught red handed’ showing his contempt for the Scottish Parliament after being taped at a meeting of 60 Conservative MPs from the north, calling the devolution ‘a disaster’.
During the Zoom call on Monday evening, the Prime Minister said the creation of a Scottish Parliament had been ‘Tony Blair’s biggest mistake’.
Nicola Sturgeon told the Scots to remember the comments, “for the next time the Tories say they are not a threat to the powers of the Scottish Parliament”.
Number 10 defended the comments, insisting Johnson would defend the majority verdict.
“The Prime Minister has always fully supported decentralization. This government continues to place the Union at the heart of everything we do ”, declared the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson.
READ MORE: Scottish politicians slam PM for claiming devolution is a ‘disaster north of the border’
“The Prime Minister has made it clear that he believes all four corners of the UK are stronger together and that he will be the voice of the majority of Scots who voted decisively to keep the UK together.
“He will always stand up against those who try to separate the UK.
“The Prime Minister believes that we had what was a single referendum and that the result of it should be respected. He strongly rejects the SNP’s call to break up the UK.
A senior Tory prosecution official told the National that he and his colleagues were furious and disheartened.
“This is a huge gift for the SNP,” he said. “I want to spend the next six months talking about Nicola Sturgeon’s failures, rather than Boris Johnson’s verbal incontinence.”
Another Tory source told the Herald: “This is not what we need right now, six months before the election. Boris becomes a handicap and he has to stop talking about issues that he clearly does not understand.
Publicly, a number of Conservative politicians have attempted to reinterpret the Prime Minister’s comments.
Former Conservative Secretary of State for Scotland Malcolm Rifkind insisted that when Johnson spoke of devolution he really meant the SNP.
The Tory told the BBC’s Today show: ‘I’m afraid this is rather typical of the vague language Boris Johnson occasionally uses. I suspect he almost certainly intended to say two things.
“He was quoted as saying it was ‘the Tony Blair disaster’ and of course, from the point of view of the Labor Party in Scotland, it was a total disaster.
“The creation of the Scottish assembly was supposed to lead to the end of the SNP and the end of nationalism. This actually led to the end of the Labor Party in Scotland, which is now behind the Tories, which would have been inconceivable in my time. ”
He added: ‘The other point, a more fundamental point for what is going on right now, is that the way the SNP which controls the Scottish Parliament works is that it is pretty pointless when it comes to education. Scottish and domestic problems. ”
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick also denied that Boris Johnson considers Scottish devolution a “disaster”.
Although this is literally what the Prime Minister said, he told Sky News: “This is not what the Prime Minister was saying.”
He added: “The Prime Minister has always supported decentralization but he is a Unionist at heart and he is very disturbed by the rise of nationalism and separatism.
‘While in parts of the UK decentralization has given local people more say in their own destiny, one downside in Scotland has been that it has been misused by the SNP to drive a wedge between those who want to be part of the same country with hundreds of years of history and friendship.
READ MORE: Unionists criticize Douglas Ross’ ‘disloyalty’ for saying decentralization ‘not a disaster’
“The Prime Minister is very worried about this. The disaster the Prime Minister refers to is the rise of separatism and nationalism in the form of the SNP. ”
Jenrick told BBC Breakfast: “I think any politician who wants to hold a referendum on something like this right now… is downright crazy.”
SNP MP Drew Hendry told the BBC that BBC Johnson was “caught red-handed with these comments”.
When told that Conservative voices now say the PM was talking about the SNP rather than decentralization, he said that argument didn’t hold up.
He said: “It is clear that they are desperately trying to recover from this revelation.
“But even if you take it at face value, in reality what they are saying is that the people of Scotland have the right to have decentralization, as long as they vote for the Westminster party that we want. let them vote. So I don’t think it holds up.