Sunak tells Sturgeon to help unite UK not divide it

Nicola Sturgeon challenged on Rosebank oil field by activist

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Rishi Sunak will tell Nicola Sturgeon to help him build a UK not ‘defined by division’ as he prepares to meet the First Minister for the first time. The Prime Minister will meet the First Minister during the British-Irish Council meeting of UK and devolved government leaders in Blackpool on Thursday (November 10).

Ms Sturgeon has said she intends to hold a second independence referendum on October 19 next year, but can only do so if the the Supreme Court agrees Holyrood has the powers to do so.

Mr Sunak has ruled out a second independence referendum, stressing the need for “constructive working” with the Scottish Government after his predecessor Liz Truss said the First Minister should be “ignored”.

The Scottish Daily Express reports that in a plea to Ms Sturgeon and other devolved government colleagues in Wales and Northern Ireland, Mr Sunak is expected to say: “We face huge challenges from global economic headwinds to war in Europe.

“So let’s be pragmatic. Let’s work together in our shared interests. Let’s deliver for all our people across these great islands – and build a future defined not by division, but by unity and hope.”

Speaking earlier on Wednesday at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), Mr Sunak confirmed the meeting would take place after an exchange with SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford.

Mr Blackford was questioning the prospect of Scottish Secretary Alister Jack being given a peerage.

Mr Sunak told the Commons: “What the Secretary of State and I are jointly focused on is working constructively with the Scottish Government to deliver for the people of Scotland.

“I will be pleased to be meeting with the First Minister tomorrow because that, I think, is what the people of Scotland want to see.”


A No 10 source added: “The Prime Minister has consistently made clear, no second independence referendum.

“Instead of talking about a divisive referendum, Scots want their governments to be focused on the issues that matter to them such as the cost of living crisis and energy security.”

The Prime Minister spoke with the First Minister by phone on October 25 with Mr Sunak saying he “emphasised” their duty to work closely together to respond to the “shared challenges we face” during the call.

Mr Blackford told the Commons Mr Jack should be sacked from his job as he is a “baron in waiting”.

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Mr Blackford added: “In the middle of a Tory cost-of-living crisis, the Scotland Office is now to be led by a baron in waiting, biding his time until he can cash in on the £300-a-day job in the House of Lords.

“He should be sacked from the Cabinet and the people of Dumfries and Galloway should be given the chance to sack the Tories in a by-election.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Ahead of the 38th British-Irish Council this Friday, the First Minister will hold bilateral talks with the Prime Minister in Blackpool on Thursday afternoon and take part in a meeting of the Prime Minister and Heads of Devolved Government Council immediately following that.

“The meeting will be an opportunity to discuss the cost of living crisis, the need to avoid damaging austerity in the upcoming Autumn Statement and the importance of respecting the right of the people of Scotland to choose their own constitutional future.”

Meanwhile, a new report has found nearly half (46 percent) of people in Scotland have found it difficult to make an appointment with their GP in the last 12 months.

The Scottish Government and the Scottish Centre for Social Research surveyed 1,136 people on their expectations of primary care for the report entitled Public Understanding And Expectations Of Primary Care In Scotland.

Data was compiled between February 4 and March 7 this year.

A majority (92 percent) of respondents reported they had been in contact with at least one primary care service in the last 12 months, which included speaking to their GP, visiting a pharmacy, dentist, optician or out-of-hours service.

Of those who had not used a primary care service in the last 12 months – 29 percent of respondents – 17 percent said they did not want to burden the NHS.

A third of respondents said it was difficult to make themselves available for appointments during standard opening times.

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