It is the second time in recent weeks the Prime Minister has issued a plea to keep the Union together amid a wave of nationalist support for independence in Scotland. Today, Mr Johnson will meet with Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill in Belfast.
He is expected to stress the importance of the UK, as well as discuss how to rebuild the economy just a day after the UK officially entered a coronavirus-driven recession.
Ahead of his trip, the Prime Minister said: “As the country begins to get back on its feet in the wake of coronavirus, we cannot simply strive to rebuild, but we must commit to building back stronger than ever.
“I cannot overstate how important the close co-operation that we have seen between central and devolved government will continue to be to this.”
Mr Johnson said he would help to make sure Northern Ireland “is ready to take full advantage of the many opportunities that lie ahead.”
Boris Johnson news: PM travels to Northern Ireland to urge united UK
Analysts have said the prospect of Ireland and Northern Ireland reuniting has become more likely this year, with Brexit a key factor.
There was also a surge of support for Irish political party Sinn Féin, which is open in its support for a united Ireland, in the country’s February general election this year.
Last month, Mr Johnson also visited Scotland – again in an attempt to stress the importance of the United Kingdom.
The Prime Minister said the coronavirus pandemic had demonstrated how England and Scotland can work together.
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Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster
Ireland election graph
He claimed the UK Treasury had supported nearly a million jobs in Scotland through the lockdown, and said the UK armed forces had airlifted “critically ill” patients from remote Scottish communities.
Mr Johnson said: “The last six months have shown exactly why the historic and heartfelt bond that ties the four nations of our country together is so important and the sheer might of our union has been proven once again.
“More than ever, this shows what we can achieve when we stand together, as one United Kingdom.”
However, a recent YouGov poll has shown the majority of Scotland now want independence from the UK, with 53 percent of people saying ‘Yes’ to independence to 47 percent of people saying ‘No.’
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It is the largest lead for Scottish independence ever recorded in a YouGov poll. It involved 1,142 Scottish adults over the age of 16.
YouGov said: “To say our latest Scotland poll is bad news for unionists would be an understatement.
“The SNP still look set for a landslide victory in next May’s Scottish Parliament elections, an election they will go into pledging to hold a second independence referendum.”
A recent YouGov poll suggested most Scots are in favour of independence
On his Northern Ireland visit, the Prime Minister is also due to discuss plans to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the creation of Northern Ireland, due in May 2021.
In addition, he will have his first in-person meeting with the new leader of Ireland Micheál Martin, who replaced Leo Varadkar in June.
Mr Martin and Mr Johnson are due to discuss Brexit and UK-EU trade talks, as well as the battle against COVID-19.
Source Daily Express :: UK Feed