The UK’s vaccination programme is a “resoundingly powerful” argument for the benefits of the Union, the health secretary has said.
Matt Hancock told a Downing Street press conference on Monday the case for the union had been “certainly reinforced” by the UK federal government’s efforts during the COVID-19 crisis.
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A Panelbase survey for day Times discovered that 49% supported Scottish self-reliance compared to 44% who favoured remaining in the UK.
Meanwhile, this weekend also saw the SNP release an 11-point plan on how they intend to produce another independence referendum.
Nevertheless, inquired about Scottish independence at Monday’s coronavirus briefing, Mr Hancock said: “The case for the union is certainly reinforced by the work that we’ve done and shown how over this pandemic we’re stronger together as one United Kingdom.”
He explained the vaccine rollout as “one example” of the benefits of the Union.
” We both purchased the science of this vaccine and bought the vaccines that we bought from global companies as a UK federal government for the entire of the UK,” Mr Hancock stated.
” We have actually then rolled it out to all different parts of the UK through the NHS, including in the three devolved countries.
” As a result of this, other than Israel and the United Arab Emirates, we have the fastest vaccine rollout worldwide.
” That’s a sign of what the UK can do when we pull together.”
Mr Hancock added his message for those in Scotland thinking about the self-reliance concern was: “We’re a lot stronger together.
” It implies a horrible lot to me and my English UK colleagues, in the UK federal government, that we are one Union that can pull together when things get tough.
” That’s an argument that I think is resoundingly effective – that this UK vaccine provided by Welsh and Scottish and Northern Irish associates in the NHS, along with, obviously, all the method across England – that is a genuine example of this nation shooting on all cylinders”.
The health secretary likewise highlighted how, at the weekend, the Scottish Ambulance Service appealed for additional assistance and “ambulance services from the other countries stepped forward”.
” Our health systems throughout the UK regularly work carefully together – offering assistance when it’s needed,” he stated.
” From vaccines to ambulance services, and the UK is more powerful together in the battle against this pandemic.”
The SNP criticised Mr Hancock for using the Downing Street news conference to outline his assistance for the Union.
A party spokesman said: “COVID rundowns ought to be for important public health info only and overtly political declarations quite risk watering down the strength of these vital health messages.
” [Scottish First Minister] Nicola Sturgeon strenuously avoids making political points at her day-to-day coronavirus instructions.
” However the truth the Tories feel the requirement to try and utilize this crisis to try and make constitutional arguments shows how deeply rattled they are by the opinion polls, which state self-reliance is clearly becoming the settled will of the people of Scotland.”
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Boris Johnson is reported to be preparing a visit to Scotland this week to make the case versus the separation of the UK.
Earlier on Monday, the prime minister also hailed the vaccination programme as amongst “the noticeable benefits of our fantastic Union”.
However he refused to state if he would mount a legal difficulty to a 2nd Scottish self-reliance referendum, if Ms Sturgeon presses ahead with a vote without the UK government’s contract.