PMQs: Johnson accuses SNP MP of ‘running down’ Scotland
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Boris Johnson accused SNP’s John Nicolson of “running down” Scotland after the SNP MP said the Brexit trade deal with Australia has made farming more competitive. In the House of Commons, Mr Nicolson asked: “Every day the Prime Minister strengthens the case for Scottish independence. His recent trade deal sees food producers in South Perthshire subjected to unfair competition from Australian producers. A country where animals can be transported to slaughter for two days in the baking heat without water.
“Farmers join seafood fishers, musicians and a whole host of other sectors who recognise his Brexit assurances were substance-free hot air.
“Can I ask him when he is planning his next Covid-safe visit to Scotland, please come soon? Every visit is toxic for his Scottish Tory apologists.”
Mr Johnson replied: “I don’t want to disappoint the Honourable Gentleman but I am seldom away from Scotland and can’t wait to be back there as soon as possible after the record polls secured by Scottish Conservatives at the recent election.
“Yet again this abuse of Australia that has high welfare standards and a negative attitude to the opportunities that free trade offers this country and the people of Scotland.
“When is going to stop running down Scottish agriculture and the potential of Scottish farming.”
It comes as Mr Johnson has said the historic vote five years ago to leave the EU will now act as a spur to jobs and renewal across the UK as it recovers from the pandemic.
In a statement to mark the anniversary on Wednesday of the 2016 referendum, the Prime Minister said it is his “mission” to use the freedoms it gave to deliver a better future for the British people.
However, in a sharply contrasting message, the veteran pro-European Lord Heseltine said the outlook was “ominous”, with the Northern Ireland peace process under real threat.
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In his statement, Mr Johnson, who spearheaded the successful Vote Leave campaign, said the country had voted five years ago to “take back control of our destiny”.
“This Government got Brexit done and we’ve already reclaimed our money, laws, borders and waters,” he said.
“Now as we recover from this pandemic, we will seize the true potential of our regained sovereignty to unite and level up our whole the United Kingdom.
“With control over our regulations and subsidies, and with freeports driving new investment, we will spur innovation, jobs, and renewal across every part of our country.
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“The decision to leave the EU may now be part of our history, but our clear mission is to utilise the freedoms it brings to shape a better future for our people.”
Joao Vale de Almeida, the ambassador of the European Union to the United Kingdom, told the Times Brexit was a “living animal” that was “done, in a way, but not done, in another way”.
He added: “I think the worst way to respect Brexit is to keep fighting battles of the past, and to keep trying to score points on disputes of the past.”
The ambassador also spoke of uncertainty regarding the future of the bloc, as well as the future of the UK, saying: “I don’t know what our relationship will be in 20 years’ time. I don’t know what the EU will be like in 20 years. And maybe I don’t know what your Union here will be like in 20 years’ time. Who knows? So we have to be ready for change.”
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