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Nicola Sturgeon prepares for more political football as Boris Johnson makes visit to Scotland TODAY

Nicola Sturgeon swapped political football for the real thing today after Boris Johnson snubbed her offer of a meeting to discuss the recovery from the Covid pandemic.

There will be no political rematch of the England v Scotland game at Euro 2020 in June after the Prime Minister refused her request for a face-to-face in Edinburgh.

Mr Johnson is north of the border today but details of what he is doing there remain sketchy. 

Previous visits to Scotland by the PM have been at tightly secure locations to avoid protests which greeted some of his trips as premier. 

Any discussions between Mr Johnson and Ms Sturgeon would likely be overshadowed by a row about a new Scottish independence referendum desired by the SNP but which the PM refuses to allow. 

Ms Sturgeon said today it was a 'missed opportunity', telling broadcasters: 'I don't feel snubbed. 

'I think most people will think it's a bit odd, and a bit strange, that we've got a Prime Minister visiting Scotland who talks a lot, rightly, about the need - despite our political differences - for us to work together where we can on getting through Covid and into Covid recovery but doesn't take the opportunity when in Scotland to come and talk to me directly about how we might co-operate and work together. 

'I think people will just find that strange and it's for Boris Johnson to explain, I suppose, why. 

Ms Sturgeon took a turn between the sticks at a children's nursery in Fallin, near Stirling today. But there will be no rematch of the England v Scotland game at Euro 2020 in June after the Prime Minister refused her request for a face-to-face in Edinburgh.  

The PM instead suggested they hold talks with other first ministers also involved at a later date.

 Mr Johnson is north of the border today but details of what he is doing there remain sketchy. Previous visits to Scotland by the PM have been at tightly secure locations to avoid protests which greeted some of his trips as premier

'This would be the first opportunity, given Covid, for us to sit down, appropriately socially distanced and have a face-to-face chat. I think it would have been a good opportunity.

'I was getting ready to welcome him to Bute House today. There's lots that Boris Johnson and I fundamentally disagree on but we both lead governments that are trying to get our countries through Covid and so there's a lot for us to co-operate on.

'So, you know, missed opportunity but that's on him. I stand ready to work with whoever, however I can to get Scotland through Covid and into recovery.'

First Minister Ms Sturgeon wrote to Mr Johnson earlier this week, offering the chance to discuss the coronavirus recovery at her Bute House residence.

But in his reply last night the PM instead suggested they hold talks with other first ministers also involved at a later date.

It came after police in Scotland named a mission to guard Mr Johnson as Operation Bunter, but later scrapped the name over fears it would offend him.

In his letter, the Prime Minister said: 'As I noted when we last met, I am keen to arrange an in-person meeting with you and the other first ministers and deputy first minister to build on the constructive discussions we had earlier this summer.

'We agreed then that we should establish a structured forum for ongoing engagement between the Government and the devolved administrations to deliver tangible outcomes in the interest of people throughout the UK.

'There is much for us to discuss as all parts of the UK work together on our shared priority of recovering from the pandemic.

'I understand our officials have made good progress on the details of this since we last spoke.'

Mr Johnson added: 'I am particularly keen that we work closely together on the vaccination booster campaign this autumn which will be crucial as we continue to tackle the pandemic.

'The UK Government has procured millions of vaccines for the entire United Kingdom and we look forward to working with the Scottish Government as we roll out booster jabs in line with JCVI's advice.

'The UK Government is working closely with the devolved Scottish Government on a variety of different issues.

Ms Sturgeon (pictured) acknowledged in her own letter on Monday she and Mr Johnson 'differ politically', but stressed the Scottish and UK governments must 'work together where we can'

'I know that you have been meeting regularly with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, but I look forward to meeting with you soon and working together in the interests of people in all parts of our country.'

Ms Sturgeon acknowledged in her own letter on Monday she and Mr Johnson 'differ politically', but stressed the Scottish and UK governments must 'work together where we can'.

It comes after she confirmed most of Scotland's remaining coronavirus restrictions are to be scrapped from Monday – which she hailed as 'perhaps the most significant date so far' in the pandemic.

From August 9, Scotland will move 'beyond Level 0' with the removal of most restrictions such as physical distancing and the size of social gatherings.

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