Boris Johnson has declined Nicola Sturgeon’s invitation to meet for talks while he is in Scotland this week.
The first minister had invited the prime minister to her official Edinburgh residence, Bute House, to discuss their plans for recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
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I understand the PM will visit Scotland later this week. Since this would be our first opportunity to meet in person for a while, I’ve invited him to Bute House to discuss Covid/recovery. We differ politically, but our governments must work together where we can. pic.twitter.com/Fo4N4nr2oN
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) August 2, 2021
But in a reply to Ms Sturgeon’s letter, Mr Johnson said: “I am keen to arrange an in-person meeting with you and the other first ministers and deputy first minister to build on the constructive discussions we had earlier this summer.
“We agreed then that we should establish a structured forum for ongoing engagement between the government and the devolved administrations to deliver tangible outcomes in the interests of people throughout the UK.”
The prime minister added: “I look forward to meeting with you soon and working together in the interests of people in all parts of our country.”
In her letter to Mr Johnson, the first minister said it would be “their first opportunity to meet in person for a while”.
Ms Sturgeon acknowledged the two leaders “differ politically”, but said the Scottish and UK governments “must work together where we can”.
The two have sometimes taken different approaches to COVID restrictions, with the devolved governments responsible for their health services.
Almost all legal restrictions in England were lifted on 19 July, while the first minister has confirmed that most COVID measures will be scrapped next Monday (9 August).
While the legal requirement to wear face masks in a range of settings ended in England last month, Ms Sturgeon has said that face coverings in shops and on public transport will remain mandatory for “some time to come”.