Boris Johnson Defends Scotland Visit As He Meets Personnel At Vaccination Centre

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon questioned whether Mr Johnson's trip was an essential journey during lockdown.

Boris Johnson has visited UK personnel setting up a vaccination centre in Scotland, brushing off criticism that his journey was not essential under current coronavirus restrictions.

The Prime Minister bumped elbows to greet soldiers at the site in Castlemilk, Glasgow, and spoke to members of the military as he was shown around.

Nearly 100 soldiers have helping set up a network of vaccine centres, like the one Mr Johnson visited in Glasgow.

Soldiers from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and the Royal Army Medical Corps have been drafted in to set up around 80 sites across the country.

During his visit, the Prime Minister asked soldiers whether they had tested positive for COVID-19 and when they said they had not, he replied: "Good, keep it that way."

However, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon questioned whether Mr Johnson's trip was an essential journey during lockdown.

Speaking at her daily COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, she said: "We are living in a global pandemic and every day I stand and look down the camera and say 'Don't travel unless it is essential, work from home if you possibly can.'

"That has to apply to all of us. People like me and Boris Johnson have to be in work for reasons people understand, but we don't have to travel across the UK. We have a duty to lead by example."

Prime Minster Boris Johnson during his trip to visit troops setting up a vaccination centre in Glasgow, Scotland, which drew criticism from Nicola Sturgeon
The prime minister was criticised Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister, who questioned the necessity of the trip.

Mr Johnson insisted on Thursday that his trip to Scotland was necessary in his capacity as Prime Minister of "the whole country [in order] to thank hard-working officials and public servants" for their "fantastic work".

Mr Johnson's official spokesman added that a "fundamental part" of the Prime Minister's job was to "go out and see businesses and communities and people".

"These are COVID-related visits," the spokesman said.

"It is obviously important that he is continuing to meet and see those who are on the front line in terms of those who are providing tests, in terms of those who are working so hard to deliver the vaccination plan."

Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, also insisted Mr Johnson's journey was absolutely "absolutely essential".

He told BBC Radio Scotland: "It's absolutely right that the Prime Minister should not only thank those who are responsible for the roll-out but also see for himself how it’s going."