UK PM Johnson faces criticism over Scotland trip in lockdown
LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced accusations Thursday that he is not abiding by the country's lockdown rules as he visited Scotland to laud the rapid rollout of coronavirus vaccines across the United Kingdom.
With a raft of polling showing increased support for Scottish independence from the U.K., Johnson's visit to promote the benefits of the union stands to be overshadowed by the lockdown dispute. Although Scotland has its own government in Edinburgh that has an array powers from public health through to education, it remains part of the U.K. under which London still has huge influence.
“Mutual co-operation across the U.K. throughout this pandemic is exactly what the people of Scotland expect and it is what I have been focused on,” Johnson said.
The U.K. has endured Europe's deadliest coronavirus outbreak with more than 102,000 virus-linked deaths but it has been among the world's leaders in rolling out a virus vaccination program.
Johnson, who has already visited a laboratory at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow as part of his trip, is arguing that Scotland is benefiting from his Conservative government's approach to getting vaccine shots out quickly.
Critics say the prime minister is politicking at a time when the U.K. is in a strict lockdown as a result of a huge resurgence of the virus that Johnson has largely blamed on a new variant first identified around London and southeast England.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has described Johnson's visit as “not essential,” in the same way that a visit by herself to another part of Scotland would not be deemed essential under current lockdown rules.
Sturgeon, whose Scottish National Party wants to hold another referendum on Scotland's independence, is way...