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British PM rivals woo Scotland, with UK unity at stake

Published : Sunday, 7 July, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 86

PERTH, July 6: The two finalists in the race to succeed Theresa May as Britain's prime minister wooed voters on Friday in Scotland, where frontrunner Boris Johnson's "no-deal Brexit" threats are fanning the flames of independence.
Scotland has been traditional tricky terrain for Britain's governing Conservative Party, which has not topped a UK general election there since the 1950s.
Former London mayor Johnson and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt held a hustings meeting in Perth, a city in central Scotland -- the latest leg of a month-long contest that will conclude with one of them being appointed Britain's next prime minister on July 24.
It was Johnson's first trip north of the English border during the campaign.
Stealing a march on Johnson, Hunt visited Scotland last month and has secured the endorsement of the Scottish Conservatives' leader Ruth Davidson, who is wary of the prospects of Britain splitting away from the EU without any plans for what happens next.
Perhaps more charismatic but less pragmatic than Hunt, bookmakers reckon Johnson appears to be cruising to victory among the 160,000 grassroots Conservatives who will pick the governing party's next leader by postal ballot.
However, Scotland, especially wary of the effects Brexit may have, may be one part of the UK that has not fallen under his spell.
"Boris is a big character. He is very popular in England; he is a bit of an unknown quantity in Scotland," said Craig Hoy, 44, a councillor in East Lothian, east of Edinburgh.
"He would have a big job in the coming weeks, and if he is elected as a prime minister, to make sure that he acts in Scotland interests."
Though Conservatives have started receiving their ballot papers in the post, Max Mitchell, 27, a local councillor in the Scottish capital, is yet to make up his mind.    -AFP

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