Boris Johnson’s devolution comments are a gift to Scottish nationalists

However much time and money is poured into the research, there seems no prospect of an effective vaccine for Boris Johnson’s recurring foot-in-mouth disease.

a person wearing a costume and holding a sign: Photograph: Peter Jolly/REX/Shutterstock

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Photograph: Peter Jolly/REX/Shutterstock

His latest departure from his party’s approved script came in a Zoom call to his northern MPs, when he delivered some impromptu thoughts on devolution to the nations and regions. Devolution in Scotland, he said, had been a “disaster”, probably “Tony Blair’s biggest mistake”. (A somewhat startling observation in light of a certain invasion.) So Johnson is very definitely not in favour of ceding any further powers to the devolved administrations.

a person holding a sign: Scottish National party protesters at RAF Lossiemouth, Kinloss in July 2020

© Photograph: Peter Jolly/REX/Shutterstock
Scottish National party protesters at RAF Lossiemouth, Kinloss in July 2020

These remarks, not unexpectedly, were manna from heaven for those Scottish nationalists agitating for a second independence referendum to follow the Scottish parliament election next May. Fourteen consecutive polls have put support for independence in the lead, while the Scottish National party appears on course to have a sizeable majority in the new Holyrood parliament.

Related: Devolution ‘a disaster north of the border’, says Boris Johnson

Against that backdrop, you might imagine that the prime minister would be exceptionally careful in his choice of words. Let’s not forget that on his elevation to No 10 he pronounced himself prime minister and “minister for the union”. A new post, presumably to underscore just how precious the ties that bind Britain’s nations are.

This latest gaffe may have profound consequences at a time when Covid-19 has laid bare the tense relationships between Westminster and the devolved parliaments in Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh.

Above all, Johnson’s remarks will have intensified the fury already sparked by the internal market bill. Understandably, most of the commentary on this bill has centred on the government breaking international law by reneging on the withdrawal agreement with the EU. Yet the debate in Scotland centres on the bill’s repatriation of powers from Brussels to London, including powers previously held by the devolved governments. Widely perceived as a Westminster “power grab”, this proposed diminishing of devolution has proved a powerful accelerant in the push for independence.

Ministers have claimed it is nothing for the Scots to worry their little heads about – merely a tidying-up exercise to make sure that chicken, chlorinated or otherwise, will have the same standards throughout the UK.

Related: Boris Johnson’s saboteur is back, and looking strangely familiar | Marina Hyde

Yet given that Johnson is commonly regarded north of Hadrian’s Wall as the SNP’s most effective recruiting sergeant, his latest musings will only reinforce that thinking. If he really believes no further powers should ever be embedded in devolved governments, it also blows a hole in the strategies of all other parties who oppose Scottish independence.

Gordon Brown, following the 2014 referendum, assured his Scottish Labour troops that there would be the most potent ever form of federalism within two years. On the Andrew Marr Show last Sunday he suggested that now was not the time

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Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds set to make history with wedding

Boris Johnson wearing a suit and tie: Hello! Magazine

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Hello! Magazine

Boris Johnson will become the first prime minister to marry while in office at Downing Street for 198 years, should he and his fiancée Carrie Symonds tie the knot while he is still serving.

A spokesperson for Boris revealed that he and Carrie were engaged in February (after Boris proposed in December 2019), when it was also confirmed that the couple were expecting a baby this summer, but they are yet to say ‘I do’.

SEE: Why Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds still haven’t got married

MORE: Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds’ private home revealed – and it’s not at No 10 Downing Street

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WATCH: Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds announce big family news

The coronavirus pandemic means that their plans for a wedding have likely been delayed, but if they do manage to exchange vows soon, they will make history with their nuptials.

RELATED: Celebrity couples whose weddings have been ruined by coronavirus

Lord Liverpool was the last prime minister to marry while in office in 1822. This marked a second marriage with Lady Mary Chester, after his first wife died aged 54.

Carrie Symonds, Boris Johnson are posing for a picture: boris johnson carrie symonds wedding info z

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boris johnson carrie symonds wedding info z

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds got engaged in December 2019

Before that, the Duke of Grafton, also the first British prime minister to be divorced, tied the knot with his second wife, Elizabeth Wrottesley, while in office in 1769.

Boris Johnson has previously been married twice. He divorced from Marina Wheeler earlier this year after 27 years together, while his relationship with Allegra Mostyn-Owen ended in 1993, six years after they wed, meaning that his wedding with Carrie Symonds will mark a third ceremony.

Lisa Fithian, Boris Johnson posing for a picture: boris-johnson-marina-wheeler-divorce

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Boris was previously married to Marina Wheeler

Only two British prime ministers before Boris have been divorced: the Duke of Grafton who divorced his first wife in 1769 before remarrying in the same year, and Sir Anthony Eden who divorced his first wife in 1950 and went on to remarry two years later.

Boris made an additional first alongside Carrie in relation to their living arrangements. He moved into No 11 Downing Street with Carrie in July 2019, when Carrie was just his girlfriend. Before then, the four-bedroom apartment had only ever been home to prime ministers’ wives or husbands.

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How Boris Johnson inspired film

Watch: Trailer for A Christmas Gift from Bob

It’s Covent Garden at Christmas, both literally and figuratively.

There’s political turmoil in the air, just weeks before a General Election, and the word “coronavirus” is still basically unknown outside of the medical profession. This is the November 2019, and Yahoo is on the set of A Christmas Gift from Bob. The film is being released this week – just one year later – into a world that could scarcely be more different from the one in which it was made.

The movie is the sequel to the charming 2016 drama A Street Cat Named Bob, which told the true story of rough-sleeping busker James Bowen – played by Olivier-winning actor Luke Treadaway – and the arrival in his life of the titular stray cat, which helped him to kick heroin addiction and turn his life around.

Adapted from Bowen’s memoir, written with the help of author and journalist Garry Jenkins, that film was a modest success in the UK, but managed to pull in around $7.6m (£5.9m) in cat-loving China, creating enough financial clout to secure a sequel.

Read more: What happened to these famous movie animals?

“When it hit China and went straight to number two, tens of thousands of cinemas in China were showing our film,” says the real Bowen, chatting to Yahoo Movies UK on the set.

“I guess, for me, I just take it in my stride. It’s just wonderful to be able to share my experiences and share the love of Bob with the world.”

James Bowen with Bob The Cat and Luke Treadaway at the UK Premiere of “A Street Cat Named Bob” on November 3, 2016. (Photo by David M. Benett/WireImage)

“A human and animal story is really universal,” says Treadaway, speaking to Yahoo Movies UK this week ahead of the movie’s release. “All over the world, people know what that bond is like and that love — the love of an animal and what loving an animal can give you.”

The books have now been translated into more than 40 languages, with around nine million copies sold worldwide across the entire series. James and Bob are recognisable faces all over the world.

Wrapping up a gift

Having told what was effectively the origin story of James and Bob in the previous film, this time around the team have reached for Bowen and Jenkins’s 2014 festive tale A Gift from Bob. Jenkins is on script duties this time, with actor-turned-filmmaker Charles Martin Smith replacing Roger Spottiswoode in the director’s chair.

“It’s a nice, self-contained Christmas story that embodies all of the qualities that the Bob books have in rather a neat and pretty little Christmas package,” says Jenkins, retreating into St Paul’s Church for warmth between takes. “That’s not to say it doesn’t have the earthiness and the reality and the authenticity of the other books. It’s still about the struggles of a person on the streets of London at

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