Boris Johnson went on the offensive against the SNP and the case for independence, attacking the Scottish Government’s record on education and criticising plans for “a new currency whose name they cannot even specify”.
The Prime Minister didn’t wait for the SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford to speak, using the preceding question from an English Tory MP about schools in his constituency to make the first strike on the issue of Scotland’s future.
“I must say, I am regretfully obliged to compare the performance of those schools that my honorable friend draws attention to with the scores in Scotland, where through no fault of the pupils, performance in maths and science are at a record low,” Mr Johnson said.
Turning to Mr Blackford, the Prime Minister went on: “Perhaps the honorable gentleman who’s about to rise to his feet like a rocketing pheasant will explain why his party is still so obsessed with breaking up our Union rather than delivering for the children and the pupils of Scotland.”
The SNP leader highlighted a vote by peers calling for the UK Government to respect the Sewel convention, which calls on ministers in London not to legislate in devolved areas.
“Devolution is under attack from this Tory government,” Mr Blackford said. “Powers are being grabbed back to Westminster. There is no respect for the people of Scotland, for Wales and Northern Ireland, for their governments or their decisions.
“Yesterday the Welsh assembly became the third devolved parliament to refuse consent for the Tory Brexit bill. Why is the UK Government ignoring the principle of consent for our national government?”
Mr Johnson hit back, saying that “the right honourable gentleman knows full well that it is no part or implication of the Sewel convention to break up the oldest and most successful political Union in the world.”
Borrowing a line from the Scottish Conservative election campaign, Mr Blackford continued: “The Prime Minister ignores the Smith Commission that recognises that it is up to the people of Scotland to determine their own future.
“The prime minister just doesn't get it. This is an unprecedented attack. Scotland said no, and we meant it,” he said, to a wall of noise from Tory MPs.
“As the opposition benches bray, it’s clear that this place simply doesn’t accept the reality that the Scottish Parliament speaks for the people of Scotland. The devolution settlement must be respected.”
The Prime Minister said he “agreed with the honorable gentleman for a second because he said Scotland said know and it meant it - and he was right. The people of Scotland said no to independence in 2014.”
Highlighting investment in Scottish shipyards, Mr Johnson concluded: “We support manufacturing in Scotland, they support nothing but manufacturing grievances, and they know it.”
The Prime Minister kept up the assault on the case for independence in an answer to SNP MP Angus MacNeil, who called for an impact assessment of the hit to UK international trade from leaving the European single market.
“I might take the honorable gentleman more seriously if he would deal with the fact that 60% of Sotland’s trade is with the rest of the United Kingdom, his proposals for the breakup of the United Kingdom would necessitate a border at Berwick, and he is proposing the pensioners of Scotland should have their assets denominated in a new currency whose name they cannot even specify,” Mr Johnson hit back.