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Boris Johnson to travel to Shetlands amid self-determination




Boris Johnson has said he is keen to see power ‘sit at the most appropriate level’ after being contacted by the head of the Shetland Islands Council on the issue of island self-determination.

In a letter to Steven Coutts in November, obtained through freedom of information legislation by Shetland News, the Prime Minister also revealed that he hopes to visit Shetlands this year.

Councilors voted 18 to two in September explore options for financial and political self-determination after expressing his frustration with the level of liquidity and the decision-making powers handed down by the central government.

Mr Coutts wrote to the Prime Minister and Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Prime Minister, to request meetings to discuss options for self-determination, arguing that the status quo is’ not tenable ‘and that the current arrangements’ undermine the prosperous and equitable future for the residents of Shetland. want to see “.

Boris Johnson Shetland
Scalloway and Scalloway Castle, Shetland.

In a response on 5 November, Mr Johnson said the UK government “has already demonstrated its commitment in this regard in areas such as Greater Manchester and London, as well as in Scotland”.

We take seriously the commitments made under the Smith Commission to further transfer the power of Holyrood to communities across Scotland, ”he said.

Shared experience

The Prime Minister said he wanted power to rest at the appropriate level, including local government, and said there was “a lot that Edinburgh’s decentralized administration could learn from the practice of the British government at this regard.

This shared experience is just one of the many benefits that come to Scotland from being part of the UK and we will always work constructively with other levels of government to ensure the best results for people. , businesses and jobs, Johnson continued. .

Boris Johnson Shetland
Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds crabs caught on the Carvela during a trip to Scotland in November.

“I know you had a constructive first discussion with the Secretary of State for Scotland on October 2nd.

“As you can imagine, the ongoing pandemic has placed significant restrictions on my time and travel, however, the Secretary of State for Scotland would be happy to meet with you further to discuss the issues you raise, and i hope i can go in the new year.

A significant event

The Scottish government also responded to the letter, on 6 October, with Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse describing the council vote as “without a doubt a significant event” which “sparked great interest in Shetland ambition”.

Mr Wheelhouse noted that the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 introduced a number of measures to support and improve local decision-making, but said he understood that local leaders’ wish to conduct extensive research on the model most attractive future of autonomy for Shetlands and would like an update. on time”.

Paul Wheelhouse.

As I’m sure you understand, the immediate priority for the Prime Minister and members of the cabinet is response and recovery from the extraordinary impact of Covid-19, ”he wrote.

However, I tasked those in charge to identify an appropriate time for a meeting between the Council of the Shetland Islands, Minister for Europe and International Development, Jenny Gilruth, and myself as Minister for Energy. , connectivity and islands.

Mr Coutts confirmed to Shetland News that the council did meet with Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack with self-determination one of the items on the agenda, as well as Ms Gilruth and Mr. Wheelhouse.

However, he said there had been no further meetings with governments since.

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