PM to make final visit to Scotland
4 July 2019, 07:03
Scottish independence will be the legacy of Theresa May, Nicola Sturgeon said as the Prime Minister prepares to depart Number 10.
Mrs May will visit Scotland on Thursday ahead of the Tory leadership hustings north of the border on Friday, before she officially stands down as Prime Minister later this month.
Either Boris Johnson or Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt will succeed her in Number 10, with the new prime minister due to be announced in just under three weeks' time.
In her speech in Scotland, the Prime Minister is expected to say: "I am confident that whoever succeeds me in 10 Downing Street will make the union their priority.
"He will be building on work done over the last three years, during which time strengthening the union has become an explicit priority of government.
"The job of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland brings with it privileges and responsibilities which you only really feel once the black door closes behind you.
"One of the first and greatest is the duty you owe to strengthen the union.
"To govern on behalf of the whole United Kingdom, to respect the identities of every citizen of the UK - English and Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish.
"And to ensure that we can go on facing the future together, overcoming obstacles together, and achieving more together than we ever could apart - a union of nations and people."
But ahead of Mrs May's visit, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said there is now nothing her successor can do to "undo the damage to the unionist cause which has been inflicted" during her time in office.
Ms Sturgeon said: "Scotland is heading inexorably towards independence - that will be Theresa May's legacy.
"The Tories' behaviour towards Scotland in the three years since the Brexit vote has been high-handed, arrogant and dismissive.
"They have demolished any notion of a respect agenda and have destroyed their own claims that the union is in any meaningful way a partnership of equals. People across Scotland can now see that more plainly than ever."
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister dismissed suggestions a review into devolution is to be held, with Scotland Office minister Lord Duncan having said the exercise would be a "simple, straightforward way of making sure devolution is working as best as it can be".
But at Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons, Mrs May said: "There is no review into devolution, there is only one party in this House who wants to stop devolution in Scotland and that's the Scottish National Party."
However, Ms Sturgeon said that even if it was the case that a review was ordered, it would be "too little, too late".
She said: "The Tories are clearly running scared of the rising tide of support for independence - and of support for holding an independence referendum, which is now the majority view across Scotland.
"Theresa May's so-called review of devolution is too little, too late - it is reminiscent of John Major's doomed 'taking stock' exercise in the 1990s, which only accelerated the pace towards the devolution referendum and the creation of Holyrood.
"This is Theresa May's last visit to Scotland as Prime Minster - but there is nothing that her successor, whoever that is, can do to undo the damage to the unionist cause which has been inflicted during her premiership."
But Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw accused Ms Sturgeon of trying to "whip up grievance and resentment".
He said: "The reality is that Nicola Sturgeon is heading inexorably towards an even deeper state of denial and delusion.
"Despite trying every trick in the book, her attempts to whip up grievance and resentment over the last four years have failed.
"Whatever she claims, most people don't want another independence referendum, they want Nicola Sturgeon to focus for once on improving our schools and public services.
"The Prime Minister's plan to improve the way the UK operates is welcome and sensible. Nicola Sturgeon's desperate headline-grabbing will impress no-one."