Scottish First Minister calls British government's Brexit strategy 'dangerous'

Boris Johnson was booed by protesters in Edinburgh as he arrived for talks with Nicola Sturgeon

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (R) pose for a photograph before talks at Bute House in Edinburgh during his visit to Scotland on July 29, 2019. New British Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes his first official visit to Scotland on Monday in an attempt to bolster the union in the face of warnings over a no-deal Brexit.  / AFP / POOL / POOL / Duncan McGlynn
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Britain's new government is pursuing a dangerous hardline strategy with EU leaders to push the country into a no-deal Brexit, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Monday evening, after holding talks with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Mr Johnson, who assumed power in Westminster last Monday, made his first visit to Scotland since becoming prime minister, visiting a naval base and meeting with Ms Sturgeon and Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson.

Both women have come out against a no-deal Brexit, putting them at odds with Mr Johnson, who has refused to take the option off the table.

Speaking to reporters after Mr Johnson left her official residence in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said: “This is a government that is pursing a no-deal strategy, however much they might deny that in public.”

“Behind all of the bluff and bluster, this is a government that is dangerous. The path that it is pursuing is a dangerous one, for Scotland but for all of the UK. He says that he wants a deal with EU but there is no clarity whatsoever about how he thinks he can get from the position now, where he’s taking a very hard line … to a deal.”

During his visit to Scotland, Mr Johnson pledged £300 million (Dh1.34 billion) to "strengthen the union" of the UK. Despite this, he was welcomed to boos and jeers from pro-Scottish independence and anti-Brexit protesters as he arrived at Bute House on Monday evening, where Ms Sturgeon lives.

The British government said the money, intended for “growth deals” would be split between Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

A spokesman for the prime minister said Mr Johnson and Ms Sturgeon discussed the pledge, and “the Prime Minister said he looked forward to working with the Scottish Government to see these deals rolled out to every region of Scotland.”

Ms Sturgeon has said Johnson's Brexit plans would hurt the economy in Scotland, which voted to remain in the EU in 2016.

"The people of Scotland did not vote for this Tory government, they didn't vote for this new prime minister, they didn't vote for Brexit and they certainly didn't vote for a catastrophic no-deal Brexit which Boris Johnson is now planning for," she said before their meeting at Bute House.

"Scotland has been ignored throughout the Brexit process and it is now time for everyone who cares about the future of Scotland to come together to chart our own course and say to the Tories - stop driving our country towards disaster."

Ms Sturgeon has warned she will continue preparations for a second independence referendum in Scotland following the Brexit vote.

However, before the pair's meeting on Monday afternoon, Mr Johnson rejected the idea of a second Scottish referendum.

"Everybody made clear at the time in 2014, even the Scottish Nationalist Party, I seem to recollect, said that this was a once in a generation vote," he told reporters in Faslane.

"I think that the confidence of the public in politicians would be undermined yet further if we were to go back on that and hold another referendum."

Mr Johnson will also travel to Wales and Northern Ireland this week.