Prime Minister Boris Johnson flies in to Moray on campaign trail
BORIS Johnson today became the first Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher to visit Moray.
The Conservative Party leader flew into RAF Lossiemouth, after a morning campaigning in England, before visiting Roseisle Maltings with his party's Moray candidate Douglas Ross.
Mr Johnson was in Moray for a couple of hours before flying back out and heading to Northern Ireland.
After a half hour tour of the maltings, Mr Johnson answered questions from Scottish and UK media on Brexit, Jacob Rees-Mogg and whisky – before speaking exclusively to the Northern Scot.
He told the Scot: "I'm here to support Douglas Ross and I'm here to support Scottish industry – I've just been at Lossiemouth, which has just been in receipt of a huge defence investment for the Poseidon planes.
"I'm here to support the Union. I believe passionately in the Union between England and Scotland."
When asked if he thinks Moray could be a marginal constituency, and if his presence in the area on day two of the election campaign highlights that fact, the Prime Minister added: "I think every seat in the country is going to be close and every seat is going to be vital. We are fighting for everywhere we can get.
"It (the fact the Tories are in Moray on day two of campaigning) shows our determination to the people. If you go with us, we will get Brexit done. If you go with Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party or the SNP you will break up the Union.
"The only thing standing between us and the break-up of the most successful political partnership in 300 years is the Scottish Conservatives and Douglas Ross.
"I'm a great admirer and supporter of Douglas and I congratulate him on everything he is doing to represent his constituents. The latest thing he has achieved is to secure a review of the whisky duties that we exact on Scotch whisky. That will help us achieve a better understanding on how to sell more Scotch whisky. It may be that our whisky duties are too high. 72 per cent of a litre now goes in tax."
Douglas Ross is fighting to retain his seat, gained with 47.5 per cent of the vote, against the SNP's Laura Mitchell and Labour's Jo Kirby.
Ms Mitchell, whose SNP party were shown to be 13 points ahead in Moray in a YouGov poll, said Boris Johnson’s visit to Moray simply highlights the appalling mess that the Tories have created with Brexit and the damage a decade of Tory austerity has caused locally.
She said: "On door after door across Moray we are finding people who are appalled at the mess that has been created in Westminster by Boris Johnson and the Tory Party.
"I welcome Boris Johnson to Moray to see first hand our food and drink industry that is set to be so damaged by leaving the vital European trade area. Damage that will cost jobs and be a huge setback to this and other key Moray industries.
"It is also a chance for him to apologise to the people of Moray for years of Tory austerity that has pushed local families into poverty and hardship.
"The Tory candidate in Moray has backed Boris Johnson over Moray, while the SNP has a very strong track record of backing their communities.
"I am proud to stand in Moray to be that local voice in Westminster, to stand up against Tory austerity and argue for the policies that will support our local people, communities and services."
However, speaking at the maltings, Douglas Ross said Boris Johnson's visit highlighted how important the Tories see Scottish constituencies like Moray.
He said: "I think it shows how seriously the Scottish Conservatives are taking this election. The Prime Minister is up here at the start of the campaign and is buoyed up.
"It's very clear it's a two horse race between us and the SNP in Moray. It was a close fight last time between myself and Angus last time and I hope over the last two years I have stood up for Moray and Moray issues."