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  1. ITV Report

What kind of reception - and difficult questions - will Boris Johnson face in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

Boris Johnson flew the flag for Wales on his recent campaign for Tory leader. Credit: PA

Boris Johnson is venturing out to the home nations for the first time as prime minister.

He is visiting Scotland on Monday and expected to travel to Wales and Northern Ireland this week.

So how will he be greeted? What questions will he face in each nation. And what will people want to hear from him?

Our experts from ITV Border, ITV Cymru Wales and UTV explain all...

  • Enemies, few friends and the challenge of Bonnie from Bonnyrigg

What reception can Boris Johnson expect in Scotland?

“Hostile, frosty, curious, star-struck. Boris Johnson can expect all of these, and who knows what else, when he arrives in Scotland,” writes Peter MacMahon, ITV Border Political Editor.

“The hostility, and there is no point using a more delicate word, will come from those on the Left – SNP politicians and independence supporters, Labour politicians, not to forget the Lib Dems and Greens.

Boris Johnson wore a hard hat during a recent campaign visit to BAE System in Govan, Glasgow - and may be advised to sport one again. Credit: PA

“Mr Johnson's opposition to a second independence referendum; his hard-line position on Brexit (Scotland voted 'remain' though a million Scots backed 'leave'); his depiction, fairly or unfairly, as a wealthy, public school educated Oxford type; his Trump-style populism as some see it - all will contribute to that hostility.

“The frosty response could come from members of the public who are less partisan, though wary of the new prime minister, but also, and potentially most damagingly, from inside his own party.

A well-sourced story in Saturday's Scottish edition of The Times - which I understand is accurate - revealed that Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson pleaded with Mr Johnson to keep her ally David Mundell on as Scottish secretary.

“Seeking a cabinet which backed his idea of a no deal Brexit, in extremis, the prime minister refused to take Ms Davidson's advice and in his brutal re-shuffle appointed 'leaver' Alister Jack instead. To say this has induced tension with the Scottish Tory party is an understatement. While Mr Johnson does have his supporters in Scotland, there are other Conservatives who fear his appointment will hasten moves towards independence.

“Oh to be a fly on the wall when the new PM meets Ms Davidson, who did not back Mr Johnson at any stage in the leadership race. I am sure we will be told they had a 'businesslike' meeting.

Boris Johnson and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson are unlikely to be as pally as this when they meet in Scotland. Credit: PA

“However, if Mr Johnson were to go out and about in Scotland it is just possible he will meet Scots voters curious about him. His first name recognition, his 'celebrity', the zip-wire stuck flag-waver all make him interesting.

“Scots love a character and he might yet confound his critics and, if he does meet any 'real people', find a number wanting the obligatory selfie and a bit of a laugh. You never know. And of course he might just some across some of those Scots who voted for Brexit and think he's doing the right thing. They do exist.

“One thing we can predict for sure from Mr Johnson's visit to Scotland: It will not be dull. As well as meeting Davidson, he is set to meet Nicola Sturgeon, his arch critic and SNP first minister. That will be a meeting but not a meeting of minds. It it hard to think of anything the two have in common. She will no doubt criticise Brexit, a no deal Brexit in particular. He will no doubt defend it. And there will be no agreement on indyref2 either. An agreement to disagree is the best we can hope for and then watch what both say after they have met. Will either be diplomatic? Well, stranger things have happened but don’t count on it.”

What are the questions voters will ask?

Voters in Scotland, like voters across the UK, will want to know what the heck is happening on Brexit.

What will it mean for Scotland's exports like whisky, for tourism, for farming and fishing? What will it mean for the immigration Scotland, with it's ageing population, needs to generate economic growth and increased tax returns?

What are his plans for funding Scotland? As mayor of London he - like the man he replaced, Ken Livingstone - questioned the 'Barnett formula' funding for Scotland, which gives higher spending per head north of the Border than any other part of the UK, other than Northern Ireland.

And then of course there is independence. Why is he, in the eyes of nationalists, denying Scots the right to decide their constitutional future? The prime minister is likely to reply that was decided back in 2014, and point out the SNP said it was a 'once in a generation' vote. The SNP will counter that all that changed with Brexit and say they have a mandate for #indyref2. SNP strategists see Mr Johnson as an asset to their cause.

What answers will people want to hear from the new PM?

It's not possible to generalise about that 'Scots want'. Academic studies show Scotland is a bit more left-of-centre than the rest of the UK, but it contains a wide variety of opinions, and therefore a wide variety of concerns.

There's evidence, in polling and anecdotally, that Scots - like voters in the rest of the UK - don't like uncertainty. So they may look to the UK's new PM to promise stability. A very tall order.

Nicola Sturgeon meets the public in Bonnyrigg. Credit: PA

If he comes across a Scottish equivalent of 'Brenda from Bristol' (Bonnie from Bonnyrigg perhaps?) he might find that there is not a great deal of enthusiasm for another general election.

Beyond that Scots want answers on day-to-day issues which also concern people in other parts of the UK - on schools, hospitals, social care, the state of the roads, crime. But all of those are the responsibility of Nicola Sturgeon's Scottish government, though of course the SNP say they could be improved (further improved they argue, though opponents differ) with more money from Westminster.

So a nice, easy first visit to Scotland as prime minister for Boris Johnson. All he has to do is win over a sceptical public, the massed ranks of opposition parties, and many inside his own party. It should be a breeze.

  • Revisiting the Welsh tongue after English language jibe

What reception can Boris Johnson expect in Wales?

“When Boris Johnson visits Wales, you might be surprised to learn that it’s somewhere he knows quite well,” writes Adrian Masters, Political Editor of ITV Cymru Wales.

“That’s because he stood as a candidate in Clwyd South in 1997 (frequently joking since that he fought Clwyd South and Clwyd South fought back) and has maintained links with Conservative activists in the area.

Boris Johnson met members of the public during a visit to Barry Island in his recent successful campaign for Tory leader. Credit: PA

“He might even use some of the Welsh phrases he learned during that time. “So he has friends and supporters in Wales even though he’s as divisive here as he is everywhere else in the UK.”

What are the questions voters will ask?

“Mr Johnson's recent comments insisting that everyone in the UK should speak English were taken by some first-language Welsh speakers as an attack on their communities.

“When I tackled him on the subject at the leadership hustings in Cardiff he at first dismissed the concerns and then accused me of ‘winding them up.’

“He’s spoken to the First Minister Mark Drakeford by phone but it’s not yet clear if they’ll meet on this occasion.

“That phone conversation was said to have been ‘mutually respectful’ but the first minister made his opposition to a no-deal Brexit ‘very clear’ to the new prime minister, saying that it would have a ‘catastrophic impact...particularly on our agricultural and manufacturing sectors.’

“Mr Drakeford also wrote a joint letter with Nicola Sturgeon, demanding Mr Johnson rule out a no-deal Brexit.”

What answers will people want to hear from the new PM?

“Similar concerns were raised loudly at last week’s Royal Welsh show when farming unions set out how worried they are about the impact of leaving the EU without a deal on Welsh lamb.

David Cameron had a photo call with a Welsh lamb during his visit to Denbighshire in 2016, alongside then Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb. Credit: PA

“During the leadership campaign Mr Johnson acknowledged the industry would face challenges. They’ll be hoping for clearer assurances during his visit.

“He’ll also be conscious that Wales could be the source of one of his first big blows as prime minister.

“Voters in Brecon and Radnorshire go to the polls in a by-election on Thursday.

“Although I no longer think it’s a foregone conclusion, there is still a strong chance the Conservatives could lose it, making Mr Johnson’s (technical) parliamentary majority even smaller and leaving the Commons even more deeply divided.”

  • Divided reaction in power-locked Northern Ireland

What reception can Boris Johnson expect in Northern Ireland?

“There will be different attitude in the Unionist and Nationalist communities,” writes Ken Reid, Political Editor at UTV.

“The DUP has a strong relationship with the new prime minister.

Boris Johnson during a visit to the Wrightbus Chassis plant in Antrim, Northern Ireland in 2016.. Credit: PA

“Sinn Fein, in particular, has a deep suspicion and maintains the DUP-Conservative Confidence and Supply arrangement is one of the main reasons there is no devolution at Stormont.”

What are the questions voters will ask?

“Northern Irish voters will be asking about economic help.

“Nationalists will be demanding action on outstanding issues such as legacy while Unionists will be looking for assurances on the future of the Union.”

What answers will they want to hear from the new PM?

“Nationalists will want assurances there will be no amnesty for British soldiers being prosecuted for alleged offences in the past.”

“They will also demand he remains neutral in talks to restore Stormont.

“Unionists will expect money pledges and the ruling out of the possibility of a border poll.”

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