PEOPLE present at the protest on Scotland’s Border with England on Saturday have spoken to The National and vehemently denied they are “racist”.

One of the protesters, Jane, who asked her surname be omitted, said their message had nothing to do with independence, but was purely about coronavirus transmission.

“We were very worried that the infection rate would soar in Scotland with the influx of holiday makers and camper vans coming from England, which has a really high infection rate, and we are doing so well here,” she said.

“I was scared it would waste all of our hard work, and all the sacrifices all the people have made over the last few months would be wiped away.”

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Tweeting about the protest, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “If you are a racist you are no friend of mine and no part of the movement I belong to.”

Jane said those there were mortified at the idea of being called racist, adding: “I think it is so, so wrong to bring that in. We have been hit from all sides.

"To put the record straight we had two English people, and one Polish lady in our group. None of us has any racist tendencies and we all have friends in various parts of England.

"I feel for them down south with their plight.”

Les Johnstone, a half-Scottish, half-English lorry driver who has lived in London since he was 16, said he had stopped on the Border for a break when he saw the “little protest about Covid”.

He said: “I get why people are worried why this would be harmful to the [independence] movement, but it was very well behaved. There was no shouting at passing cars or any angry banners or anything like that.”

Asked about a video circulating on social media, in which a man in a fake hazmat suit and tartan facemask can be heard to say “Stay the f**k out of Scotland” to the camera, Johnstone said: “I know that one video and that is obviously the thing that’s going to go viral rather than the peaceful stuff.

“To be honest the word f**k, it’s just how people talk, and just because he has used that word it doesn’t mean he was being nasty.

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“Saying he was racist, far from it. There was none of that. I have seen xenophobia up close, my wife is of Indian heritage and I have seen it, how her mum was abused when she first came to the UK.

“This was nowhere near racism. It was just about the fact there is a border and that border needs to be maintained if we are going to maintain a strong position fighting Covid. They were making a very serious point about how serious it is bringing this over the Border.”

Jane added: “As far as we were concerned, it was purely about health and not to lose the progress we all had made. It’s not political. As for our indy movement, we will be up and running with that after we best this virus, that’s what’s important at the moment.”

Ian Mcneil, who apparently arranged the protest, told The National: “Scotland is still in lockdown and the Scottish Government is doing well in its attempts to eliminate Covid-19.

“Our demo was to highlight the fact that campsites and caravan parks will not be fully opened until July 15, therefore there are no toilet facilities.

"For some weeks now the locals up north, including one SNP leader, have tried to discourage tourists from holidaying here until further notice ... that’s what the demo was all about.”

Mcneil posted a 10-minute video of the protest to his Facebook, with the message: “Some MPs, comedians and certain Yes groups should watch this and take note of the content before judging people with knee-jerk statements and condemnation.

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“The message was clear … Covid infection rates south of our Border are far higher. We were there to discourage tourists from holidaying in Scotland until such times as the virus is eliminated throughout the UK. Have a staycation in your own nation. One final point, this was NOT an independence or constitutional issue.”

In the first minute of the video he can be heard to say: “It’s a simple little message, that people wanting to go on holiday now but who are not going abroad, they should maybe pick up a wee holiday in Scotland or a wee holiday in England.

“So anybody down in England why not have a wee holiday in the Lake District, Blackpool, spend money down there, support local businesses, and we’ll do the same in Scotland.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police in the Borders were called to a layby area near the A1 at Lamberton at around 2.25pm on Saturday following a report of protest activity at the side of the carriageway.

"Officers attended and suitable advice was given to those in attendance.”