UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday warned that Britain could be weakened if the union that holds the four nations together was broken, indicating his latest refusal of an increasing push towards independence for Scotland.
The relationship between the four constituent nationsâEngland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Walesâthat has suffered significant damage due to a strained Brexit, has been further marred owing to the disagreements over the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
'The Greatest Political Partnership,' Says Johnson
That is particularly the case in Scotland, which voted against leaving the European Union and where opinion polls show support for independence narrowly outweighs support for its 300-year union with England.
"The union of the United Kingdom is, for me, it's the greatest political partnership the world has ever seen," Johnson told broadcasters when asked what the union meant to him. "It would be such a shame to lose the power, the magic of that union."
Scottish National Party Seeks Another Vote
Scotland voted 55 percent to 45 percent against independence in a 2014 referendum, but the Scottish National Party which runs the semi-autonomous nation wants another vote. Although voters there backed staying in the EU, Britain as a whole voted to leave.
Johnson's Conservative Party, which governs all of Britain and decides policy in areas that have not been devolved to Scotland, is a strong supporter of the union and dismisses any call for another vote. However, Johnson and other senior ministers have visited Scotland in recent weeks, talking at length about the strength and benefits of the relationship.
(With inputs from agencies)