Boris Johnson invites other UK leaders for summit on Covid-19 recovery

Boris Johnson has invited the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to a summit on how the UK can recover from Covid-19 in a post-election olive branch which nonetheless rejects calls for a second referendum on Scottish independence.

The Prime Minister wrote to Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford on Saturday night, congratulating them on being re-elected to their posts as First Minister of Scotland and Wales respectively.

He did not mention Ms Sturgeon’s demand for the UK Government to approve a fresh independence referendum in the next few years, having made clear he is not planning to accept the request and would be willing to take the First Minister to court if she seeks to hold a vote outside her legal powers.

Instead he proposed “a summit meeting to discuss our shared challenges and how we can work together in the coming months and years to overcome them”. The offer comes after repeated complaints that Mr Johnson has refused to hold meetings with the devolved administrations, delegating the task to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove instead.

The Prime Minister told Ms Sturgeon and Mr Drakeford that the success of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout was “Team UK in action”, adding: “While the UK’s broad shoulders have supported jobs and businesses the length of the country, we know that economic recovery will be a serious shared responsibility because the pandemic’s damage runs deep.”

Mr Johnson concluded: “We will all have our own perspectives and ideas – and we will not always agree – but I am confident that by learning from each other we will be able to build back better, in the interests of the people we serve.”

Earlier on Saturday Mr Drakeford said: “This really is a moment that the Prime Minister should seize to reset relationships across the United Kingdom, for a serious examination of the way in which we can create the machinery that will allow us to work together in the future.

“Not an approach that thinks flying more Union Jacks at the tops of buildings, but proper, respectful relationships that recognise that sovereignty is now dispersed across four parliaments in which we choose to pool it for common purposes.”

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