‘Muscular unionism’ of Boris Johnson will not halt independence drive, SNP deputy leader will say

Boris Johnson’s brand of "muscular unionism" will fail to dampen support for Scottish independence because his ministers "do not have the brains to match the brawn”, Nicola Sturgeon’s deputy will argue on Sunday.

John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister, will tell the SNP conference that the UK Government will "plaster the country with Union flags" in an attempt to convince Scots to oppose separation.

But he is expected to argue that this tactic would fail, along with constant attempts to "undermine the Scottish Government" and funding "pet projects in Tory-held seats".

Instead, Mr Swinney will warn that Britain will suffer through a new winter of discontent because of a deepening economic "disaster" triggered by Brexit and the end of free movement from the Continent.

If a referendum were to be held tomorrow asking ‘should Scotland be an independent country?’

He is also expected to warn that Mr Johnson and Michael Gove are trying to dismantle devolution by removing Holyrood’s powers and dictating how money is spent in devolved areas.

Mr Swinney, who is also Scotland’s Covid Recovery Secretary, will tell delegates watching the virtual conference: “They will cut our budget, diverting funding to pork barrel, pet-projects in Tory-held seats. They will plaster the country with Union flags.

"And they take every opportunity they have to undermine the Scottish Government .. but the problem they will face with their muscular unionism is that they do not have the brains to match the brawn.”

Arguing that the "sorry saga of Brexit" was the best example of how the Union has failed Scotland, he will highlight empty shelves in some supermarkets and farmers complaining they have had to let food rot in the ground because they did not have the workers to harvest it.

Mr Swinney will conclude: "The Tories are unwilling and unable to take the simple steps required to fix the problem they have created. The UK is facing a winter of discontent and Westminster isn’t working."

But Annie Wells, the Scottish Tories’ Shadow Health Secretary, said: "The SNP blame everything on Brexit because they’ve got nothing else to say.

"They’re ramping up division to distract from their decade of disasters that have hit our schools, hospitals, jobs, businesses, ferries and just about everything else in Scotland.”

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