SNP criticises Hancock for using coronavirus briefing to praise the Union

The SNP has criticised Health Secretary Matt Hancock for using the Downing Street coronavirus press conference to argue the "UK is stronger together" in the pandemic.

Amid signs of rising support for Scottish independence, Mr Hancock stressed the importance of collaboration between the nations in the fight against Covid-19 during the health briefing.

He told the press conference in No 10 on Monday that the Scottish Ambulance Service put out an appeal for extra help over the weekend and other nations "stepped forward".

Mr Hancock said: "Our health systems across the UK routinely work closely together offering support when it's needed, and from vaccines to ambulance services we are stronger together.

"And the UK is stronger together in the fight against this pandemic."

The Scottish Government's Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham accused Mr Hancock of using the briefing to make "overtly political statements about the Union".

She argued that SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon would face "fury" if she used her briefings to do the same.

An SNP spokesman said: "Covid briefings should be for important public health information only and overtly political statements very much risk diluting the strength of these crucial health messages.

"Nicola Sturgeon strenuously avoids making political points at her daily coronavirus briefings – but the fact the Tories feel the need to try and use this crisis to try and make constitutional arguments shows how deeply rattled they are by the opinion polls, which say independence is clearly becoming the settled will of the people of Scotland."