A SCOTTISH Government minister has said Boris Johnson will be breaking strict rules on travelling during the Covid pandemic if he comes to Scotland this week to campaign against independence

According to the Sun, the Prime Minister will use the flying visit to "make an impassioned plea for Scots to reject narrow separatism, and hail the benefits of being in the UK".

But Christina McKelvie, the Minister for Older People and Equalities doubted whether this would count as "essential work".

The SNP quipped that, if it is the case that the Prime Minister's visit is essential, then the Union "really is in peril".

News of Johnson's planned visit comes just days after the SNP unveiled plans to hold an independence referendum - even if Downing Street refuse to grant their permission.  

READ MORE: PM refuses to say if he would take Scots to court on indyref2

Yesterday also saw the publication of the 20th poll in a row to put support for independence ahead. 

The Panelbase survey for the Sunday Times put Yes ahead by 52% to 48%.

It also put support for the SNP on 70% – up seven points since the last elections in 2016 – while the Tories were down six points on 25%, with Labour down five points on 19%.

Speaking at a vaccination site in north London today, Johnson said now wasn't the time for an independence referendum.

He said: "The whole UK is going through a pandemic.

“I think what the people of the UK want to see is everybody focusing on beating that pandemic, which we are, rolling out the vaccine, and getting ready to bounce back from that pandemic and have the strongest possible economic recovery.

"I think people also can see everywhere in the UK the visible benefits of our wonderful union.

"A vaccine programme that is being rolled out by a National Health Service, a vaccine that was developed in labs in Oxford and is being administered by the British Army.

“So I think the strengths and advantages of the Union speak for themselves."

Responding to the news, McKelvie tweeted: "Eh? Is he campaigning during the pandemic? Should he be travelling? Is this essential work?"

The SNP MP Neil Gray accused Johnson of "total disrespect and disregard for 'do not travel unless absolutely necessary'."

An SNP spokesperson said: "The Prime Minister is always welcome to visit Scotland. The law in Scotland requires all work that can be done at home, to be done at home and Scottish ministers are not engaging in visits in line with the current Stay at Home regulations and the requirement to stay local. 

"So, it's clear the PM must think the Union is really in peril if he considers his visit to be so essential."

On Sunday, Nicola Sturgeon was asked by Andrew Marr for her view on the Prime Minister’s comments that there should not be another referendum until 40 years after the 2014 vote.

She said: “It’s Robert Burns’s birthday tomorrow and our annual Burns day, and when I hear Boris Johnson talk about this, I bring to mind a Burns poem: ‘cowrin tim’rous beastie, oh what a panic’s in thy breastie’. He’s frightened of democracy.

“The polls now show that a majority of people in Scotland want independence. If the SNP win the Scottish election in a few months’ time on a proposition of giving the people a choice, then what democrat could rightly stand in the way of that?

“Boris Johnson clearly just fears the verdict and the will of the Scottish people.”

READ MORE: Douglas Ross: Scots must boycott indyref2 if held without UK consent

In their new plan for indyref2 – revealed exclusively by The National on Saturday – the SNP said if it wins the election in May and there is a pro-independence majority it will again ask for a Section 30 order.

However, if the UK Government does not agree to the transfer of powers, the Scottish Government would press on with legislation in Holyrood to hold a second independence referendum.

The SNP said it would then be up to the UK Government to either “agree that the Scottish Parliament already has the power to legislate for a referendum” or “agree the Section 30” or “take legal action to dispute the legal basis of the referendum and seek to block the will of the Scottish people in the courts”.