Boris Johnson has taken a swipe at the SNP by claiming “there wouldn’t have been a single vaccine delivered” in an independent Scotland.
The prime minister is reported to have made the comment in a virtual meeting of backbench Conservative MPs on Tuesday evening.
Mr Johnson is said to have tackled a series of questions, including one from a Scottish Tory about the SNP – with Mr Johnson using his answer to take aim at the pro-independence party.
One MP in the virtual meeting told The Guardian: “Essentially, the point the prime minister was making is that the UK is a major country, we’ve got sufficient clout to get the vaccines rolled out. He did actually mention that we were ahead of the rest of Europe.
“He said if it were up to the SNP then there wouldn’t have been a single vaccine delivered in Scotland. It was a UK effort, in other words, and needed the clout of a big government.”
Downing Street refused to deny that the prime minister made the remarks when asked this afternoon.
Mr Johnson’s spokeswoman, Allegra Stratton, said: “I can’t comment on any private meetings but there’s no doubt that the Union’s been critical in the development, production and in administration of the vaccine.”
An SNP spokesman said: “These comments are as crass as they are inaccurate and show once again how desperate the Tories are to politicise the pandemic.
“The development of vaccines has been a global effort and our focus is on ensuring we vaccinate people in Scotland as quickly and as safely as it is possible to do so.”