LABOUR leader Sir Keir Starmer has defended Boris Johnson’s trip to Scotland to promote the Union today, insisting the mid-pandemic visit is “legitimate”.

Senior Scottish Government figures, including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, have questioned whether the journey is essential at this difficult point in the pandemic.

It is currently against the law to travel from England into Scotland and vice versa without a “reasonable excuse”.

People are allowed to travel for work purposes, but only when the work cannot be carried out at home.

READ MORE: Scotland better off in the Union during pandemic, Boris Johnson to say during visit

The Prime Minister’s trip today comes after 20 consecutive polls showed a majority of Scots back independence, with the SNP on track to gain a majority at May’s Holyrood election.

His trip north of the Border is set to reinforce the “importance of the strength of the United Kingdom in the fight against Covid-19”.

The UK currently has the worst coronavirus death rate in the world, and this week passed 100,000 deaths.

During an interview with LBC this morning Starmer was asked about the Prime Minister’s controversial trip to Scotland.  

READ MORE: Boris Johnson Scotland visit: Michael Gove insists mid-pandemic trip is essential

Tories like Alister Jack and Michael Gove have defended the journey, insisting it is essential and describing Johnson, who is not well liked in Scotland, as an “asset” to the Union.

Starmer told the radio station he backs Johnson’s trip, adding: “He is Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, of course it's legitimate.”

He told Nick Ferrari: “Nick, I’m with the Prime Minister on this one. He’s the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It is important that he travels to see what’s going on on the ground.

“I understand he’s going to see a vaccine centre, going to talk to the NHS. I would expect the Prime Minister to do that frankly, obviously I’m his opposite number but I’m going to defend him on this.”

He went on: “He needs to know what’s happening with the vaccine roll-out. I’ve seen it on the ground, that’s my job as well, it helps us understand the logistics, how it’s going, what the problems are if there are any, so they can be solved.”

It’s not only pro-independence figures who have questioned whether Johnson should be visiting Scotland.

LibDem MP Alistair Carmichael, the former Scottish secretary, was wary of the trip. He accused Johnson of treating his position as Minister for the Union “Like a punchline”.

The veteran LibDem said: “Ronald Reagan famously said that the scariest words in the English language were ‘I am from the government and I am here to help you’.

“For those of us making the case against separation, the Prime Minister making a day trip of this sort has a similar ring.”

Carmichael said the guidance was clear.

“If the Prime Minister is intending to travel then he had better have a real reason and some real work to do – not just staged photoshoots,” he said.

READ MORE: Angry MPs tell Boris Johnson to cancel his jaunt to Scotland

“When the Prime Minister came to Scotland last summer, he posed for the cameras with Orkney crab and promised good times ahead.

“If he’s determined to visit again, he should meet with those same producers to apologise for breaking his promises and wrecking their access to vital European markets.

“Bungling Boris Johnson has been consistently the most effective recruiting sergeant the nationalists could dream of."