Choosing Boris Johnson as prime minister would be disastrous for the Conservatives, particularly in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Scotland’s First Minister said that Mr Johnson was seen as one of the principle people responsible for the Brexit “mess” by those living north of the border, where 62% voted Remain in the 2016 EU referendum.
She said that the case for independence is “stronger than it has ever been” and said she is confident the SNP would win a referendum on the issue.
In an interview on Sophy Ridge On Sunday on Sky News, Ms Sturgeon was asked her views on the impact choosing Mr Johnson as prime minister would have on the Conservatives in Scotland.
She said: “I think he would be devastating, disastrous for the Conservatives UK-wide but particularly in Scotland.
“He is seen in Scotland I think as one of the principle politicians who are responsible for the mess that we are in over Brexit, the guy who misled people in the EU referendum campaign and the guy who now says he is prepared to take the UK out of the EU without a deal, for most people in Scotland that is a horrifying prospect.”
Ms Sturgeon also said that Mr Johnson has made “overtly racist” comments, mentioning the time when he compared Burka-wearing Muslim women to “letterboxes”.
It comes as a new poll suggests that more than half of Scottish voters would vote to leave the UK if Boris Johnson were to become prime minister.
Ms Sturgeon also called on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to “get off the fence” on the issue of a second EU referendum and urged the party to decide which side they are on.
She said: “We’ve been trying to work with Jeremy Corbyn to get him behind a second EU referendum, thus far that hasn’t happened.
“If we have a no-deal Brexit or a catastrophic Brexit all of the damage that is done from that, Jeremy Corbyn if he doesn’t get off the fence on a second EU referendum will bear almost as much responsibility for that as Theresa May and the Conservatives.”
She added: “I think the prospect of a no-deal Brexit has increased significantly but also I think the potential to stop that happening if Jeremy Corbyn gets off the fence has also increased.”
The SNP leader has already earmarked the second half of 2020 for when a second Scottish independence referendum could be held but she is unlikely to get permission to hold such a ballot from the new prime minister, be it Mr Johnson or his leadership rival Jeremy Hunt.
She said: “I’m absolutely confident that we would win a referendum.
“There is no doubt the case for independence is stronger than it has ever been.
“I’m more confident than I have ever been that Scotland will take that opportunity to be an independent European nation playing our part in the world.”
Ross Thomson, Scottish Conservative MP for Aberdeen South, responded to Ms Sturgeon’s comments, saying: “As usual, Nicola Sturgeon is using any opportunity to whip up support for her separatist agenda.
“The truth is that Boris Johnson is absolutely committed to not just protecting, but to strengthening our union if he becomes PM.”
Also speaking on the Sky News show, Labour MP Andrew Gwynne said the party was now backing a second referendum on Brexit.
Asked whether Labour was now in favour of a second referendum in all circumstances, he replied: “Well Jeremy said that and that is because we face the risk of no deal so that any Brexit deal that is brought to Parliament, including a no-deal scenario, we will say as the Labour Party that there should be a second referendum on those prospects.”