Scottish nationalists should put an end to its “pointless constitutional wrangling” and stop its endless calls for a second referendum on independence, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday while on a one-day visit to the region.
“I don’t think that the right thing to do is to talk endlessly about another referendum when, I think, what the people of the country want, and I think the people of Scotland want in particular, is for us to fight this pandemic,” he said while visiting a factory in Livingston, West Lothian, where CCP virus vaccines are being manufactured.
“It’s great to see everything that Scotland is contributing to the national effort” to fight the pandemic, he said. “It’s quite amazing and I think what people want to see is us bouncing back more strongly together.”
“I don’t see the advantage of getting lost in pointless constitutional wrangling when, after all, we had a referendum not so very long ago.”
In a referendum held in 2014, Scottish voters rejected independence by 55 to 45 percent.
Johnson said the independence referendum should be “a once-in-a-generation event.”
But the Brexit vote in 2016 put the union of the United Kingdom under considerable strain. Though the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU by 52 to 48 percent, Scotland voted 62 to 38 to remain.
Since the UK formally exited the EU’s single market on Jan. 1, many Scottish fishermen have halted exports to EU markets as post-Brexit bureaucracy shattered the system that used to put fresh langoustines and scallops in French shops just over a day after they were harvested.
The pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP), which runs the semi-autonomous Edinburgh executive, demanded on Jan. 10 that the UK government pay billions of pounds in compensation to Scotland for the mounting costs and disruption of Brexit.
The SNP also laid out plans on Jan. 23 for a new referendum if, as expected, it wins Scottish elections in May.
Talking to the media on Thursday, Johnson called the Brexit disruption “teething problems.”
“Be in no doubt, over the medium term and much more over the long term, the changes are very, very beneficial for Scottish fishing,” he said.
“My focus is on defeating the pandemic,” he said, adding that he believes in “the power of doing things together.”
He said “we don’t actually know what that referendum would set out to achieve” and “what the point of it would be.”
“I think what people do want is to focus on the issues that really matter,” such as jobs, education, fighting crime, and drugs, he said.
Reuters contributed to this report.