PM shows commitment to union with three-country tour on ‘Con Air’

Boris Johnson took to the skies aboard “Con Air” as part of a three-nation campaign trip designed to show his commitment to the Union.

The Prime Minister’s whistle-stop tour of businesses in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland was tied in with his message about delivering the first stage of Brexit by January while also keeping the United Kingdom together.

But such a claim appeared to be a hard sell for Mr Johnson pre-election, given the DUP opposed his Brexit deal amid concerns over its impact on Northern Ireland’s place in the Union and the SNP is pro-Remain and pressing hard its independence ambitions for Scotland.

Mr Johnson’s day at times also resembled planning for a job outside Number 10 as he got hands-on experience in tea and crisp factories either side of whisky tasting.

Arriving on board a private plane, Mr Johnson began by saying hello to those travelling with him and repeatedly remarked it was “Con Air” – an apparent nickname for the Conservative campaign airplane rather than a direct reference about the 1997 thriller movie starring Nicolas Cage.

After arriving at Teesside Airport, Mr Johnson travelled to the Tetley Tea factory in Eaglescliffe.

He drank a cup of tea and discussed with staff whether or not it was best to leave the tea bag in the cup, different types of tea and asked: “What about cream tea?”

Boris Johnson sampled whisky in Moray
Boris Johnson sampled whisky in Moray

On the tea he was drinking, the PM said: “I need it, the plane was freezing.”

He was later given a tour of the production line and weighed boxes of teabags.

In Scotland, Mr Johnson met Douglas Ross – the Conservative candidate seeking re-election in Moray – for a tour of the Roseisle Distillery.

He sampled a whisky, describing it as “delicious”.

Mr Johnson jokingly told reporters he was “not allowed” to sample too much of the spirits on offer at the distillery before taking another small sip.

Boris Johnson during a visit to Tayto Castle crisp factory
Boris Johnson during a visit to Tayto Castle crisp factory

Speaking to broadcasters after his tour, the PM claimed the Conservatives are the “party that is going to keep our fantastic United Kingdom together” and argued the Scottish Tories would “prevent” a fresh independence referendum.

He said: “We’re the party that’s saying come on, let’s get together as a whole UK, let’s get Brexit done, get this thing over the line and then get on with bringing our great country together and unleashing the potential of the whole UK.”

Mr Johnson then flew on to Northern Ireland to visit the Tayto crisp factory in Tandragee to round off his day of campaigning.

He helped sort potatoes, ate some crisps and boxed up packets of crisps in the noisy factory.

The PM also posed for photos with staff.