• STV
  • MySTV

Boris Johnson: I'm Ruth Davidson's number one fan

The Prime Minister sought to downplay the idea of a rift between the two over a no-deal Brexit.

Boris Johnson has declared himself Ruth Davidson's "number one fan" before meeting with the Scottish Conservative leader in Edinburgh.

Attempting to pour cold water on the perception of a rift between the pair, the Prime Minister said he shared "a huge range of political beliefs" with the Scottish Tory leader.

Speaking on his first trip to Scotland as PM, Johnson's remarks come the day after Davidson declared she would not back the UK Government if it pursued a no-deal Brexit.

But the Scottish Conservative leader said she had been privately reassured in her meeting with Johnson that his government's goal was to strike a new Brexit deal.

Earlier, the Prime Minister visited Faslane naval base and was given a tour of the HMS Victorious, one of four Vanguard-class nuclear submarines stationed at the site near Helensburgh.

He said: "I'm a number one fan of Ruth Davidson and what she's done for Scottish Conservatives.

"It's she who is taking the fight to the Scottish nationalists, those who would destroy the union.

"She's been fantastically successful and I admire her brand of Conservatism very much.

"Indeed, she and I share a huge range of political beliefs and our core philosophy is the same."

'The second biggest employer in Scotland is the MoD - these are tangible benefits from the union that I don't think we've done enough to talk up. Ruth and I are absolutely at one in wanting to do that.'
Prime Minister Boris Johnson

On Brexit, he added: "I also think she's right to think we should be going for a deal, not no-deal. That's where we should be trying to end up.

"But it's the responsibility of the government of the United Kingdom to make sure we are prepared for every eventuality.

"And if our partners won't move - they won't take out the backstop, they won't even begin to change that withdrawal agreement, they won't compromise at all - then of course we've got to get ready for no deal."

Johnson also contradicted his Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove - and chief no-deal planner - who said on Sunday a no-deal Brexit was the "working assumption" of UK ministers.

Asked if that was the case, the PM said: "Absolutely not. My assumption is that we can get a deal, we're aiming for a new deal.

"But Michael is of course absolutely right that it's responsible for any government to prepare for no-deal if we absolutely have to."

Johnson's Scotland visit - the latest stop in a UK tour - follows days of media coverage suggesting tension with Davidson over the sacking of long-serving Scottish secretary David Mundell.

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1439504-mundell-i-would-have-worked-with-johnson-to-keep-union-together/ | default

There has also been rumours of growing support within Scottish Conservative ranks for a breakaway from the UK party due to Johnson's perceived toxicity with Scottish voters - although Davidson has long opposed such a move.

Addressing that, the Prime Minister said: "Don't forget that Ruth herself she doesn't want to see any such outcome. I think she's said that repeatedly and she's dead right.

"We stand together - we stand for things that are so important for our country. The value of the union and the United Kingdom.

"Look at where we are... £1.7bn of investment flowing directly from Scotland's membership of the UK into defence alone.

"The second biggest employer in Scotland is the MoD - these are tangible benefits from the union that I don't think we've done enough to talk up.

"Ruth and I are absolutely at one in wanting to do that."

'I don't support no-deal and the Prime Minister has made it very clear today both in his meeting with me, and speaking with journalists like yourself, that the primary objective of his government is to get a deal.'
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson

Speaking after their meeting at the Scottish Parliament, Davidson said: ""We had an incredibly constructive meeting.

"We covered a number of areas, talking about Brexit, the need to make sure we can get a deal across the line, and I support the Prime Minister wholeheartedly in getting that deal.

"We talked about how we can continue to have the UK Government deliver in Scotland, for Scots, and how we can build on that delivery, and also how we can continue to take on Nicola Sturgeon and oppose her obsession with another independence referendum."

The Scottish Tory leader added: "Our MPs voted for a deal the last time it came to Parliament, all 13 of them.

"I think the question is why have you got Nicola Sturgeon being so hypocritical, running around saying a no-deal is terrible but saying in the same breath that she'll make sure her MPs oppose any deal that this new Prime Minister brings to Parliament.

"I want to see the Prime Minister get a deal, I want to support him in that.

"I pressed him today on ensuring that we see the sort of shuttle diplomacy we're going to need to get a deal with the European Union that we can bring back to the House of Commons and that we can get across the line.

"I expect and hope the Scottish Conservative MPs absolutely will back that deal in the same way that they backed the last deal that Theresa May brought forward."

Later, he arrived at First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's Bute House residence for talks in the Scottish capital.

Groups of independence campaigners and pro-EU demonstrators gathered across the street of Bute House and met Johnson with a chorus of boos when he arrived, along with some cheers.

Sturgeon earlier warned Johnson that his "hard-line" government was "driving the country towards disaster".

Analysis by STV's political correspondent Ewan Petrie

'Boris Johnson represents the kind of Conservatism that she has been trying to consign to the past, and in many areas it will be a tough sell on the doorstep. Their face to face meeting today, and whether they can find a way to work together, could have a profound impact on the future of the union.'
STV's political correspondent Ewan Petrie

In his victory speech Boris Johnson spoke of uniting the country.

It was the 'U' part of his DUDE strategy for government.

This visit to Scotland is part of his attempt to put that into action and weaken support for independence by highlighting the benefits of the union.

On top of that, however, he has work to do to build relations with the leader of the Scottish party.

In defiance of the new Prime Minister, Ruth Davidson has made it clear she will oppose a no-deal Brexit.

Over the weekend the UK government said it was ramping up preparations for that very outcome.

The pair had already clashed over Mr Johnson's decision to sack David Mundell as Scottish Secretary.

That showed a Prime Minister willing to ignore advice of the party's leader in Scotland and get rid of one of her closest allies.

Previously Ms Davidson could argue she held sway in Number 10 when David Cameron and Theresa May were in office.

That is now history.

And the issue goes far deeper than a personal fallout between the pair.

Ruth Davidson has reaped the rewards at the ballot box of pursuing a deliberate strategy of detoxifying the Tory brand in Scotland.

But that is now is at risk of being ripped apart.

Boris Johnson represents the kind of Conservatism that she has been trying to consign to the past, and in many areas it will be a tough sell on the doorstep.

Their face to face meeting today, and whether they can find a way to work together, could have a profound impact on the future of the union.

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.