Boris throws down gauntlet to Sturgeon with new masterplan to DERAIL independence bid

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The leaders of the devolved administrations will meet regularly to discuss how to work together to “deliver for people across the whole of the United Kingdom” as part of a new set-up aimed to secure the future of the Kingdom.

Leaders will discuss issues that affect people across Britain and Northern Ireland, particularly where they cut across reserved and devolved policy.

The council will be the highest level meeting of a new three-tier structure set out to help boost relations within the Union.

Ministers will also chair groups on more specific matters impacting the four nations.

Mr Johnson said of the new set-up: “When team UK pulls together in common cause, spirit and endeavour we will always be at our very best.

“We’ve shown time and time again the combined strength we have in facing off the shared challenges before us, while also seizing the opportunities ahead for the benefit of the whole United Kingdom.

“Today’s announcements build upon that strength as we all continue to work together to deliver for the British people.”

All four nations have formally agreed to the new three-tier structure.

It is hoped it will help suppress support for separatism in parts of the UK.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “Scotland has two governments, and people want to see them continue to work together to tackle covid and drive our recovery.

“Throughout the pandemic, the Scottish and UK governments have worked closely together, to keep people safe, protect public services, and support businesses and jobs in Scotland.

“This important agreement will build on that and help strengthen cooperation further – as we work together to deliver the priorities of people in Scotland on jobs, prosperity and economic recovery.

“It also reflects the increased powers of the Scottish Parliament since 2016 and the UK’s vote to leave the EU.”

Mr Johnson has held a series of meetings with the leaders of the devolved nations since May last year.

The first took place shortly after the Welsh and Scottish parliamentary elections when the SNP and Welsh Labour saw their mandates to govern increase.

Ms Sturgeon said the results gave her the mandate to hold a new referendum on Scottish independence before the end of 2023.

Mr Johnson has ruled out giving approval for a new vote in the immediate future saying “now is not the time”.

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