BORIS Johnson's visit to Scotland indicates that the Tory Government fears Nicola Sturgeon "has behaved more capably" during the coronavirus crisis, according to a leading historian.

Tom Devine said "the future of the entire Union is at stake" due to continued rise in English nationalism, support for Scottish independence, the prospect of a No-Deal Brexit and the pandemic.

He told BBC Radio Scotland that the First Minister's "systematic" approach to the pandemic shows how she would run an independent Scotland.

"The SNP has gained somewhat in perception. Examining the SNP and the Scottish Government's role in the pandemic will be for later scholars to examine once the evidence is clearer and transparent," Devine said.

"The image that has come through in the press is that the Scottish Government has performed more capably ... they give the impression during this crisis of having grip ... there seems to be a kind of systematic approach. The obvious conclusuon from that is that if they can manage a life or death criris then perhaps, in the views of the more sceptical Unionists or nationalists, the broad conclusion might logically be that they might actually be able to effectively run the normal administration of a small country."

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Devine said it is not only Scotland that is suffering from Johnson's leadership.

He continued: "We don't have a great political class at the moment in a time in British history of great national peril ... the future of the entire Union is at stake."

He said Johnson has annoyed protestants in Northern Ireland with his approach to Brexit but that Wales will be "the last connection to England" if the Union falls apart.

Devine said he agrees with polling expert John Curtis's analysis that the length of time indpendence has been rising in the polls is significant.

"As John Curtice has convincingly pointed out, there has never been such a period of independence leading the polls really since the SNP became a political force in the 60s and 70s of last century," Devine added.

Devine said the rise of English nationalism is to blame for the complex relationship between Scotland and England adding: "There is undoubtedly a feeling among a substantial minority of the English electorate that they are being taken advantage of in terms of support for the other nations and that is going to cease."

He said the combination of coronavirus and a No-Deal Brexit has left Johnson "in a hellish situation".

"We've also got the possibility of a no deal experience with Europe ... specifically in the small country of Scotland. These are challenges that would bring sweat to the brow of any of our more capable prime ministers of recent times. He's in a hellish situation on these two fronts," Devine continued.

"One can speculate that there is indeed real concern, if not fear, now in the higher ranks of the Government in London that they have a Scottish problem which they have obviously denied for some time. Given Boris's role as the best recruiting sargeant the SNP apparently have, it could well be a counterproductive move on his part.

"I don't think he has a majority fanbase in Scotland and the fact there there's this division in relation to him is another sign of the deepening rift between what used to be south southern England and Scotland, but now it's really between England and Scotland."

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Devine spoke about a Newsnight appearance on Wednesday night where he was asked to compare Johnson to Margaret Thatcher but he said there are substantial difference to how both prime ministers are viewed in Scotland.

"In Scotland he has always been regarded by the majority as a bit of a buffoon, rightly or wrongly," he said.

READ MORE: Leading Scots historian compares Johnson to Thatcher

"Thatcher was not well-liked, especially by the working class people in Scotland because of her so-called role in industrialisation. But the difference was, in my view at least, that Thatcher had a degree of respect in Scotland because of her obvious capability in running the country. The difference with Boris is he's not only been accused by the majority in Scotland of being a funny man, but he also does not have the same respect or authority that Thatcher had.

"I share the opinion of some commentators in London that there is a doubt whether he will last a year and an even bigger doubt as to whether he will last until the next election as the prime minister.

"There is a good chance that the Tory party will not put up with it because it is quite clear that his ratings in the opinon polls are plummeting. The higher echelons of the Tory party are ruthless in terms of removing a leader who is found to be potentially counterproductive in the voting or election area."

He said Johnson's advantage is that it is "a very long time" until the next UK General Election in 2024.