Boris Johnson has described Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon as “yokemates of destruction” as he ruled out ever allowing another Scottish independence referendum.
The Prime Minister was visiting a Diageo distillery near Elgin, Moray, as he took his General Election campaign to Scotland, and he claimed “cynical” tariffs on whisky would “vanish” if the UK left the EU.
Speaking after his tour, Mr Johnson accused Labour and the SNP of agreeing a “shady deal” for another independence referendum – something both parties have repeatedly denied.
He dismissed Ms Sturgeon’s claim that he would find the case for allowing another independence referendum “irresistible” if the SNP win the most Scottish seats on December 12, and stressed Scots were promised the 2014 vote was a “once in a generation thing”.
Asked if he could give a cast-iron pledge to voters that he would not agree to another referendum, the PM said: “Absolutely, there is no case… people were promised in 2014 – absolutely clearly – that it would be a once in a generation event, and I see no reason why we should go back on that pledge.”
Reacting to Labour’s statement that they would not do any deals with the SNP, Mr Johnson said: “Pull the other one – it’s got bells on.
“It’s perfectly obvious that Jeremy Corbyn is going to rely on the SNP to get him into power and to do that he’s done a shady deal to have a second referendum.”
Mr Johnson also told reporters he has “interceded” with Donald Trump to get new US whisky tariffs dropped – an issue he claimed was a “cynical” act by the EU.
He said: “You know why this happened, why they put a tariff on Scotch whisky? It’s because the EU Commission decided to put a tariff on bourbon so the Americans automatically retaliated by hitting whisky.
“It was cynically triggered by the EU Commission because they knew that the Americans will respond in that way.
“Once we come out of the EU, once we get Brexit done, those tariffs will no longer apply to this country.
“But we’re hoping to get rid of them even sooner than that, and I’ve certainly asked the president to lift them.”
Claiming the tariffs would “vanish” once Brexit happens, he added: “It is only Scottish Conservatives who have done in my view a lot of very good work, not least in securing £211 million in extra agricultural funding but also today, as we are announcing, secured a review into excise on to Scotch whisky so that it can be even more competitive and so we can sell even more Scotch whisky around the world.”
The first days of the Conservative Party’s election campaign have been mired in controversy, following Jacob Rees-Mogg’s interview suggesting the Grenfell fire victims lacked common sense, Ross Thomson quitting amid sexual assault allegations – which he denies – and Alun Cairns resigning as Welsh Secretary over a collapsed rape trial.
Visiting Roseisle distillery in Scotland with our fantastic candidate @Douglas4Moray.
The Scottish whisky industry supports over 10,000 jobs in Scotland, and over 42,000 jobs across the UK. We will continue to back these brilliant businesses that keep our economy growing. pic.twitter.com/BAqoRRmq6Y
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) November 7, 2019
Mr Johnson declined to say that Mr Thomson – his leadership campaign manager in Scotland – had been a good MP, and said: “I think that Ross has obviously taken the right decision and I think that you should direct all further questions to him.
“Obviously I regret very much what has happened, but he has done the right thing.”
He also dodged a question about whether Mr Rees-Mogg should resign, saying that the Leader of the House of Commons had apologised for his remarks.