Home / UK / Boris Johnson to ‘hold out the hand’ for new Brexit deal – BBC News

Boris Johnson to ‘hold out the hand’ for new Brexit deal – BBC News

Boris Johnson at Faslane

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Boris Johnson arrived at the Faslane naval base on his first visit to Scotland as prime minister

Boris Johnson has called for a renewal of “the ties that bind our United Kingdom” as he makes his first visit to Scotland as prime minister.

He announced £300m of funding for projects to boost the economy in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It comes the day after Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said she would not back his plans for a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Johnson has insisted the UK will leave the EU by 31 October with or without a deal.

During his visit to the Faslane naval base, Mr Johnson set out how the latest “growth deals” plan will help communities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

He is also expected to have meetings with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Ms Davidson in Edinburgh, with his Brexit strategy high on the agenda for both.

Ahead of his visit, the new prime minister said: “Our union is the most successful political and economic union in history. We are a global brand, and together we are safer, stronger and more prosperous.

“So as we prepare for our bright future after Brexit, it’s vital we renew the ties that bind our United Kingdom.

“I’m proud to be in Scotland today to make clear that I am a passionate believer in our great union, and I look forward to visiting Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure that every decision I make as prime minister promotes and strengthens our union.”

Mr Johnson also plans to go to Wales to meet members of its farming community and Northern Ireland to discuss ongoing efforts to restore devolution at Stormont.

No-deal Brexit

The prime minister’s plans for Brexit will be a key feature of his talks with Ms Sturgeon and Ms Davidson, expected to take place in Edinburgh on Monday afternoon.

Mr Johnson has said there are “no ifs, no buts” over his pledge to take the UK out of the EU by 31 October, and three new committees have been formed to ensure this happens.

One of them – a “daily operations committee” – is made up of senior cabinet ministers responsible for overseeing all of government’s preparation for leaving, including planning for a no deal.

Meanwhile, the CBI has warned the government neither the UK nor the EU are ready for a no-deal Brexit on 31 October.

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Ruth Davidson said she backed Mr Johnson as prime minister but would not give her support to a no-deal Brexit

On Sunday, Ms Davidson said that while Mr Johnson had her “full support” in his efforts to secure a withdrawal agreement with the EU, she did not agree with a no-deal Brexit.

Writing in the Scottish Mail on Sunday, she said: “When I was debating against the pro-Brexit side in 2016, I don’t remember anybody saying we should crash out of the EU with no arrangements in place to help maintain the vital trade that flows uninterrupted between Britain and the European Union.”

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also pledged to fight against a no-deal exit, saying it would cost 100,000 jobs and “plunge the economy into recession”.

Speaking ahead of an expected meeting with Mr Johnson on Monday, she said: “The people of Scotland did not vote for this Tory government, they didn’t vote for this new prime minister, they didn’t vote for Brexit and they certainly didn’t vote for a catastrophic no-deal Brexit which Boris Johnson is now planning for.”

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Nicola Sturgeon is back in Edinburgh to meet Mr Johnson after a weekend campaigning in Shetland ahead of a Holyrood by-election

The funds announced on Monday are the latest in a series of city region and growth deal agreements where the UK and Scottish governments put forward cash for investment in local projects.

These have already seen more than a billion pounds committed to economic growth and infrastructure in areas including Glasgow, Aberdeen, the Highlands, Stirling, Edinburgh, Dundee and Perth.

This will now be expanded with funding going to Falkirk, the islands and Argyll and Bute in Scotland, as well as to parts of Northern Ireland and Wales.

Scottish Finance Secretary Derek Mackay claimed the £300m announced on Monday was already under negotiation before Mr Johnson became prime minister.

“This isn’t new funding,” he told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme.

“This was all in the pipeline anyway, so it’s really recycled finance which is a totally unimpressive announcement from a prime minister that wants to reset a relationship with Scotland.”

Welsh Labour also hit out at the funding plans, calling them “very thin stuff” which would not make up for a “chronic lack of investment”.

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Mr Johnson announced a new Office for Veterans’ Affairs while visiting the Faslane naval base

The UK government, however, insisted the money was new, with Scottish Secretary Alister Jack praising city deals as “helping to create jobs and boost local economies”.

Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith said he looked forward to “making the most” of the funding, while Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said he and Mr Johnson were committed to building on the “successes” of the growth deals already in place across Wales.

The growth deal plan comes after Mr Johnson announced a £3.6bn towns fund over the weekend, which will initially support 100 locations in England.

As part of his visit to Scotland, the prime minister also announced plans for a new Office for Veterans’ Affairs within the UK government, to coordinate medical treatment and training and “ensure no veteran is disadvantaged because of their service”.

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Boris Johnson to ‘hold out the hand’ for new Brexit deal – BBC News

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