Nicola Sturgeon rebuffs Boris Johnson’s offer to unite as Team UK

Boris Johnson last night threw down the gauntlet to Nicola Sturgeon over Scottish independence by urging her to join a UK-wide council of war to rebuild the nation after Covid.

After knife-edge election results left the SNP one seat short of an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament, the Prime Minister called on Ms Sturgeon to join ‘Team UK’ to tackle the legacy of the pandemic

But she appeared to reject the offer by mocking the ‘supposedly clever manoeuvre’. Mr Johnson’s invitation will be seen as a move to head off demands for another independence referendum by tying Ms Sturgeon into a national rebuilding exercise.

He congratulated the SNP leader on her success in the elections, before saying he believed ‘passionately’ that ‘the interests of people across the UK and in particular the people of Scotland are best served when we work together’. 

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, pictured, along with the SNP's Kaukab Stewart outside the election count centre in Glasgow yesterday challenged Prime Minister Boris Johnson over his refusal to permit an independence referendum

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, pictured, along with the SNP's Kaukab Stewart outside the election count centre in Glasgow yesterday challenged Prime Minister Boris Johnson over his refusal to permit an independence referendum

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, pictured, along with the SNP’s Kaukab Stewart outside the election count centre in Glasgow yesterday challenged Prime Minister Boris Johnson over his refusal to permit an independence referendum 

Ms Sturgeon, pictured, said a majority of MSPs in the Scottish parliament stood on a manifesto supporting a referendum

Ms Sturgeon, pictured, said a majority of MSPs in the Scottish parliament stood on a manifesto supporting a referendum

Ms Sturgeon, pictured, said a majority of MSPs in the Scottish parliament stood on a manifesto supporting a referendum 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson toasted his party's success in England on Friday, but results in Wales and Scotland have been less promising

Prime Minister Boris Johnson toasted his party's success in England on Friday, but results in Wales and Scotland have been less promising

Prime Minister Boris Johnson toasted his party’s success in England on Friday, but results in Wales and Scotland have been less promising








The Conservative Party smashed through further parts of the red wall, but failed to gain significant ground in Scotland and Wales, according to this week's election results

The Conservative Party smashed through further parts of the red wall, but failed to gain significant ground in Scotland and Wales, according to this week's election results

The Conservative Party smashed through further parts of the red wall, but failed to gain significant ground in Scotland and Wales, according to this week’s election results

Citing the success of the vaccine rollout ‘from Gretna to John o’Groats’, he said: ‘This is Team UK in action.’

Mr Johnson also invited First Ministers of Wales and Northern Ireland to the Covid summit ‘to discuss our shared challenges and how we can work together in the coming months and years to overcome them’.

But in a televised statement being delivered as the letter was being emailed to her, Ms Sturgeon criticised the Prime Minister for resisting a new referendum. She said: ‘I hear about Boris Johnson refusing to give in to these demands. And what supposedly clever manoeuvres Westminster might be planning. All of this treats voters in Scotland as if they simply don’t matter – like they are just a sideshow. But voters are not a sideshow. You – not me or Boris Johnson – are the people who matter.’

Mr Johnson also invited First Ministers of Wales and Northern Ireland to the Covid summit ‘to discuss our shared challenges and how we can work together in the coming months and years to overcome them’.

But in a televised statement being delivered as the letter was being emailed to her, Ms Sturgeon criticised the Prime Minister for resisting a new referendum. She said: ‘I hear about Boris Johnson refusing to give in to these demands. And what supposedly clever manoeuvres Westminster might be planning. All of this treats voters in Scotland as if they simply don’t matter – like they are just a sideshow. But voters are not a sideshow. You – not me or Boris Johnson – are the people who matter.’

65 seats are needed for a majority in the Scottish Parliament

65 seats are needed for a majority in the Scottish Parliament

65 seats are needed for a majority in the Scottish Parliament

To the relief of No 10, the SNP fell just short of the 65 seats needed to win an outright majority at Holyrood.

The SNP eventually secured 64 seats. The Conservatives won 31, with 22 to Labour, the Greens on 8 and the Lib Dems on 4. Alex Salmond’s new Alba party failed to win a seat.

With the Green candidates also standing on a mandate to hold another referendum in the next five years, it means the London Government is facing a coalition in favour of such a vote. But Ms Sturgeon’s hopes of an outright majority were dashed when tactical pro-unionist voting helped the Tories to hold Aberdeenshire West by more than 3,000 votes.

Despite Mr Johnson’s implacable opposition, the SNP leader vowed to push ahead with plans for a rerun of the 2014 referendum, leading to the prospect of a Supreme Court battle between Holyrood and Westminster.

Ms Sturgeon said that rejecting her party’s calls would amount to a refusal ‘to accept Scottish democracy’. The most recent polls have shown Scottish voters split roughly 50/50 on independence.

As the count continued yesterday, it was clear the SNP would fall one single seat short of an overall majority

As the count continued yesterday, it was clear the SNP would fall one single seat short of an overall majority

As the count continued yesterday, it was clear the SNP would fall one single seat short of an overall majority  








In other developments on another day of dramatic election results:

  • Bitter recriminations broke out within Labour after allies of leader Sir Keir Starmer made his deputy Angela Rayner the scapegoat for the catastrophic election results and fired her as party chairman;
  • Former Labour Cabinet Minister John Denham said the party under Sir Keir could be finished as a ‘national political force’, and that it ‘seems to have ‘turned its back on Eng-land and Englishness’;
  • Andy Burnham became the bookies’ favourite to be next Labour leader after winning re-election as mayor of Greater Manchester in a landslide;
  • Yvette Cooper was being lined up as a ‘compromise’ candidate to replace Sir Keir if he fails to reverse the party’s fortunes;
  • Labour suffered another setback by failing to oust West Midlands Tory Mayor Andy Street;
  • Sadiq Khan was on course to win a further four-year term as Labour’s London Mayor – but with a much smaller margin of victory than expected;
  • Labour won an effective majority in the Welsh Senedd, meaning the party’s Mark Drakeford will remain First Minister;
  • After 130 of 143 councils had declared results, the Tories had gained control in 12 areas, including Gloucester, Worcester and Cannock Chase, with Labour losing power in six;
  • The Conservatives gained 238 councillors, while Labour had lost 293.
Mr Johnson, pictured with the new Tory MP for Hartlepool, Jill Mortimer, left, has written to the First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland inviting them to a summit to discuss a post-Covid recovery plan

Mr Johnson, pictured with the new Tory MP for Hartlepool, Jill Mortimer, left, has written to the First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland inviting them to a summit to discuss a post-Covid recovery plan

Mr Johnson, pictured with the new Tory MP for Hartlepool, Jill Mortimer, left, has written to the First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland inviting them to a summit to discuss a post-Covid recovery plan

The SNP eventually secured 64 seats. The Conservatives won 31, with 22 to Labour, the Greens on 8 and the Lib Dems on 4. Alex Salmond¿s new Alba party failed to win a seat

The SNP eventually secured 64 seats. The Conservatives won 31, with 22 to Labour, the Greens on 8 and the Lib Dems on 4. Alex Salmond¿s new Alba party failed to win a seat

The SNP eventually secured 64 seats. The Conservatives won 31, with 22 to Labour, the Greens on 8 and the Lib Dems on 4. Alex Salmond’s new Alba party failed to win a seat

In his letter to Ms Sturgeon, Mr Johnson said: ‘While the UK’s broad shoulders have supported jobs and business the length of the country, we know that economic recovery will be a serious shared responsibility because the pandemic’s dam-age runs deep… from hours of lost school learning, to backlogs in the NHS and courts. Overcoming them will require the same spirit of unity and co-operation which marked our fight against the pandemic.’

Mr Johnson concluded his letter by saying: ‘I am confident that by learning from each other we will be able to build back better.’

However, yesterday senior Tories accused Ministers of making a ‘strategic’ tactical error early in the pandemic that gave the SNP in Scotland and Labour in Wales a ‘slam dunk’ electoral boost.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory party leader, told The Mail on Sunday that using health service legislation rather than the UK-wide Emergency Powers Act ‘meant ‘we had Drakeford and Sturgeon up in front of the cameras day in, day out, laying claim to successes that were in fact the UK Government’s, like vaccines.’

A senior Government source confirmed the choice of legislation ‘unquestionably shored up the Labour and SNP vote. The fact Sturgeon can appear before the nation for more than a year, talking about matters of public health, has had an effect, there is no shadow of a doubt.’

It is understood the decision to use the health legislation was argued by Health Secretary Matt Hancock. A source said he ‘underestimated how devious Sturgeon and Drakeford were going to be in taking credit for policies’.

And writing in today’s Mail on Sunday, former Tory Chancellor Lord Lamont said the possibility of a Scottish breakaway ‘is so real and so damaging that, from now on, this threat demands the Prime Minister’s attention above all else’.

Last night, Mr Johnson said: ‘These results are an instruction to us to keep our focus on what matters – more jobs and investment, better public services and levelling up opportunity in every single community.

‘Voters have put their trust in Conservative representatives, councillors and mayors and we must deliver for them. We will have a laser-like focus on the people’s priorities.’ 

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory party leader, told The Mail on Sunday that using health service legislation rather than the UK-wide Emergency Powers Act ¿meant ¿we had Drakeford and Sturgeon up in front of the cameras day in, day out, laying claim to successes that were in fact the UK Government¿s, like vaccines¿

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory party leader, told The Mail on Sunday that using health service legislation rather than the UK-wide Emergency Powers Act ¿meant ¿we had Drakeford and Sturgeon up in front of the cameras day in, day out, laying claim to successes that were in fact the UK Government¿s, like vaccines¿

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory party leader, told The Mail on Sunday that using health service legislation rather than the UK-wide Emergency Powers Act ‘meant ‘we had Drakeford and Sturgeon up in front of the cameras day in, day out, laying claim to successes that were in fact the UK Government’s, like vaccines’

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