Boris Johnson beats hasty retreat over controversial devolution remarks
Iran Press TV
Saturday, 21 November 2020 6:43 PM
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has stepped back from his controversial comments on Scottish devolution, and now claims he supports the idea in principle.
Addressing the Scottish Tories conference via video link, the PM now claims he was only criticizing the "performance of devolution" under the Scottish National Party (SNP).
"I don't want to oppose devolution as a concept in itself", Johnson protested.
The PM was alleged to have derided devolution â€“ and especially devolution in Scotland â€“ as a "disaster" in a virtual meeting with Tory MPs from northern England last Monday (November 16).
Johnson's description of devolution as former Labor Prime Minister, Tony Blair's "biggest mistake" drew a sharp response from current Labor Party leader, Keir Starmer.
Addressing MPs during Prime Minister's Questions at the House of Commons (November 18), Starmer described devolution as "one of the proudest achievements of the last Labor government".
In his latest position, Johnson offers a reductionist view of devolution by framing it as greater control over local â€“ as opposed to national â€“ affairs.
"Devolution should be used not by politicians as a wall to sequester, to break away, an area of the UK from the rest", the PM protested.
"It should be used as a step to pass power to local communities and businesses to make their lives better. It's that kind of localism which I believe in and want to take further", Johnson proclaimed.
For their part, the SNP has seized on the PM's apparent retreat to build an even stronger case for an expansive reading of devolution as a pathway to full Scottish independence.
An SNP spokesman said in a statement that Johnson was merely offering "more weasel words of deflection from his blunder in revealing he thinks devolution has been a disaster".
Johnson's "blunder" may cost him and the Tories dearly at the Scottish Parliamentary election next May, which is widely viewed as a litmus test for a fresh referendum on Scottish independence.
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