United Kingdom

Nicola Sturgeon challenges Boris Johnson to face-to-face talks

Nicola Sturgeon has challenged Boris Johnson to attend face-to-face talks in Edinburgh later this week. 

The Prime Minister will reportedly head to Scotland for an official visit and Ms Sturgeon today extended an invitation to meet at Bute House. 

The Scottish First Minister said the talks would focus on the recovery from the coronavirus crisis. 

She said that while she and Mr Johnson 'differ politically' the UK and Scottish governments 'must work together where we can'. 

The pandemic has been punctuated by repeated disagreements between Mr Johnson and Ms Sturgeon over how best to prevent infections and reopen society.

The invitation, made public by Ms Sturgeon in a post on Twitter, will inevitably spark speculation over whether she would use the meeting to challenge Mr Johnson on the issue of Scottish independence. 

Nicola Sturgeon has challenged Boris Johnson to attend face-to-face talks in Edinburgh later this week

The Prime Minister will reportedly head to Scotland for an official visit and Ms Sturgeon today extended an invitation to meet at Bute House

Ms Sturgeon tweeted: 'I understand the PM will visit Scotland later this week. 

'Since this would be our first opportunity to meet in person for a while, I’ve invited him to Bute House to discuss Covid/recovery. 

'We differ politically, but our governments must work together where we can.'

The SNP leader posted a picture of a formal letter sent to Mr Johnson which read: ‘I understand you will be in Scotland later this week and thought this might offer us an opportunity to meet in person in Edinburgh for a discussion on the current Covid situation and our respective plans for recovery – focussing, obviously, on the areas where it is important that our governments work together.

‘I would be happy to welcome you to Bute House and thereby extend an invitation.

‘If you are agreeable, perhaps your Private Office could contact mine to discuss suitable arrangements.’  

Ms Sturgeon’s Scottish Government has taken a different approach to that adopted by the UK Government in England with respect to how coronavirus has been handled.

While all restrictions have been lifted in England, the Scottish First Minister is still to confirm if this can happen north of the border from August 9 – with a statement to be made tomorrow.

She has also warned people in Scotland that the use of face coverings in places such as shops and public transport will most likely remain in place for some time.   

It is unclear whether Mr Johnson will accept the invitation. Downing Street is likely to be wary of being ambushed over Scottish independence. 

Ms Sturgeon said that while she and Mr Johnson 'differ politically' the UK and Scottish governments 'must work together where we can'

Ms Sturgeon wants a re-run of the 2014 referendum to be held in the coming years but Mr Johnson has repeatedly made clear he is not prepared to grant permission for another ballot, arguing the first was supposed to be a once in a generation event. 

However, Michael Gove, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, recently suggested the PM could eventually soften his stance. 

He suggested Westminster would not stand in the way of a second Scottish independence referendum if wanting to hold one was clearly the 'settled will' of voters. 

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