Scotland politics

Boris Johnson says opponents 'don't trust the people'

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Media captionBoris Johnson said he believed voters want the country to "get on" with Brexit

Boris Johnson has claimed his political opponents "don't trust the people" as they vowed to again block his demand for a snap general election.

Opposition parties have said they will vote against or abstain in Monday's vote on whether to hold a poll.

Mr Johnson said the public was tired of "dither and delay" over Brexit, and want us to "get this thing done".

And he vowed to "go to Brussels and get a deal" that would allow the UK to leave the EU on 31 October.

Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP and Plaid Cymru held talks on Friday on their strategy over the timing of a general election after joining forces earlier this week to block the PM's plan to hold an early vote

All four parties have said they will again not support the PM's call for an election in the Commons on Monday.

They are concerned that Mr Johnson would not stick to his pledge to have the election on 15 October, and would instead wait until after the UK leaves the EU on 31 October - potentially without a deal.

Speaking on a visit to Aberdeenshire, the prime minister told journalists that it was "curious" the opposition had refused his offer of an election.

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Image caption A bull bumped into a plain clothes police officer while being walked by the PM at a farm in Banchory, near Aberdeen

Mr Johnson added: "They don't trust the people, they don't want an election - perhaps it is because they don't think that they will win.

"Fine. I'll go to Brussels, I'll get a deal and we'll make sure we come out on 31 October".

He insisted a deal would be agreed by 17 or 18 October - the dates of an EU Council summit - and would allow the UK to "start a new partnership with our European friends".

The PM said the public was tired of "endless, pointless delays" to Brexit, and "want us to get on and do it", and that "never in history has the opposition party been given the chance for election and turned it down."

Mr Johnson has previously said he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than ask for another extension to Brexit - but he said resigning as PM if the country does not leave the EU by that date was "not a hypothesis I want to contemplate".

He also said he could see "no reason" to agree to a second Scottish independence referendum.

In other developments on Friday:

  • There was some good news for Mr Johnson when the High Court in London rejected a legal challenge by campaigner Gina Miller, who wanted his plan to suspend Parliament ruled illegal
  • The court immediately said Ms Miller could appeal. A decision in the appeal against a similar ruling in the Court of Session in Edinburgh earlier this week is expected to be delivered next Wednesday.
  • But the panel of three Court of Session judges refused to grant an interim interdict which would have prevented Parliament being prorogued before they deliver their verdict.
  • A bill aimed at ensuring the UK cannot leave the EU without an exit deal has completed its passage through the House of Lords.
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Image caption Mr Johnson visited a fish market in Peterhead as he kicked off his trip to Scotland

Labour's shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the possibility of having an election was "extremely attractive" but the "immediate crisis" of preventing a no-deal Brexit had to be dealt with first.

Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, says she would "relish" a general election, and predicted that the SNP would "beat the Tories" in Scotland on a ticket of offering the country a chance to "choose our own future".

But she told BBC Scotland that her priority was stopping a no-deal Brexit, and that a November general election was now looking more likely than October.

And she said holding a general election before the end of October could allow Mr Johnson to "cut and run".

The prime minister's trip to Scotland will include a visit to the Queen's Balmoral estate.

He is expected to cut short his visit to the monarch's summer residence - a traditional prime ministerial trip each summer - because of the Brexit crisis.

Rather than the usual weekend-long visit, Mr Johnson and girlfriend Carrie Symonds are likely to return to London on Saturday.

A politically bruising week for the prime minister has seen Mr Johnson lose his Commons majority, the expulsion of 21 of his own MPs for rebelling and his younger brother resign from government, alongside defeats in the Commons over Brexit.

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Image caption Nicola Sturgeon does not believe a general election in October is in the public interest

Mr Johnson used his visit to Scotland to announce £51.4m of funding for Scottish farmers over the next two years, in addition to a £160m package unveiled earlier this week as part of the Spending Review.

The move is aimed at settling a long-running row over the distribution of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy payments across the UK, and meets the recommendations of the newly-published Bew Review.

The funding was announced as the UK government confirmed it would work to ensure cash for farmers was fairly allocated across the whole of the UK, and that the industry would be ready for a "prosperous future" outside the EU.

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Media captionSo who actually wants an election?

NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick described the move as being the "largest funding uplift for the sector in recent memory".

But the SNP said Mr Johnson was like a "thief returning to the scene of a crime", while Labour said the prime minister was "no friend" of Scottish agriculture.

The prime minister started his visit to Scotland at Peterhead Fish Market and joined in with a bidding war over a box of cod - which he ended up buying for £185.

Asked whether Mr Johnson had paid a good price, fish market chief executive Simon Brebner said: "If you're selling, it's a great price. If you're buying, maybe it's a little high."


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