SCOTTISH independence is “just not going to happen”, Boris Johnson has predicted, as he said he would “certainly” lead the Tories into the next general election.
The Prime Minister also said Douglas Ross had done “a very good job” of leading the Scottish Conservatives, even though he’d used his position to urge the PM to resign.
Mr Johnson made his remarks in an interview with the Scottish Daily Mail during his flying visit to Rosyth on Monday.
Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants an independence referendum by the end of next year, Covid permitting, but Mr Johnson has refused to give Holyrood the power to hold it.
Despite the impasse, the First Minister has tasked 11 civil servants with drafting a fresh prospectus akin to the White Paper given to voters before the 2014 independence vote.
Mr Johnson said the Covid pandemic had shown Scots they were better off in the UK.
He told the Daily Mail: “Just look at the experience of the last two years.
“Scotland and the whole of the UK has benefited massively from the might of the UK Exchequer, the UK Treasury, whether it is through furlough or any of the other things that we’ve done together.
“I think most people could see that it would be an economic disaster to split up our country. That is why it is just not going to happen.”
The PM also backed up his pensions minister Guy Opperman, who last week said the SNP had been caught “misleading Scots” over who would pay for pensions under independence.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford had said the rest of the UK woould have an obligation top “pay pensions” based on people’s historic national insurance contributions.
Ms Sturgeon later accepted Scotland would pay, following a negotiation with London.
“I do not in any way wish to dissent from what my Pensions Minister has said,” the PM said.
Mr Ross told the Prime Minister last month that he thought the scandal over parties in Downing Street during lockdown had made his position untenable.
Most of the 31 Scottish Tory MSPs agreed with Mr Ross’s hardline stance.
Despite the very public rift, Mr Johnson suggested there may be a truce between the pair, and he would speak at the Scottish Tory conference in Aberdeen next month.
He said: “I think Douglas has done a very good job indeed of leading the Scottish Conservatives. He secured back at the last election, as far as I can remember, about 100,000 more votes than any previous Scottish Conservative leader.
“He stopped the Scottish National Party from getting the outright majority that they thought they could get.
“Every day Douglas gets up and campaigns for the Union of our country in a way that is absolutely passionate and I totally share.
“All I would say is there is far, far more that brings us together than separates us.”
He added: “He and I pursue… we have a vision of a global Britain with Scotland playing an absolutely crucial role.”
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Asked whether he believed they will both lead the Conservatives into the next General Election, he said: “Of course.”
Mr Johnson was last week sent a legal questionnaire by the Mertropolitan Police as it quizzes 50 people about alleged Covid rule-breaking in and around Number 10 during lockdown.
The Met is expected to reveal how many fixed penalty notices, if any, it issues as a result, but not the recipients.
SNP deputy Westminster leader Kirsten Oswald said: “It is utterly absurd that Boris Johnson and Douglas Ross believe that they can both remain in office.
“How can Ross and the Scottish Tories possibly fight an election under a leader they think is unfit for office and should resign – not to forget that their Westminster bosses dismissed their Scottish Tory leader as a ‘lightweight’.
“It’s clear that Boris Johnson and Douglas Ross can’t both remain in post with any credibility.
“If Boris Johnson refuses to do the right thing and resign, then people will rightly question if they can take Douglas Ross seriously if he continues to limp on.”