The National:

THE Daily Mail’s Andrew Pierce has accused Scotland’s First Minister of “talking out her kilt” on tighter Border restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The ever-charming journalist and LBC host, who in the summer claimed Nicola Sturgeon “fibbed” about cutting her own hair during lockdown, described her as “one of the most irritating people in British politics” during an interview with Nick Ferrari this morning.

The Daily Mail associate editor made the comments after the First Minister said she would not rule out closing the Border between Scotland and England a result of different quarantine rules coming into force.

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In England passengers must quarantine in a hotel for 10 days if they have travelled from 33 “red-list” countries, but in Scotland all arrivals, except those from the Common Travel Area – which includes the UK and Ireland – must do so.

At present under Scottish law people must not travel to the rest of the UK unless they have a reasonable excuse. However, there are fears that people could circumvent Scotland’s stricter quarantine rules by travelling to England then heading to Scotland.

Countries like New Zealand and Australia which have had tight border restriction throughout the pandemic generally have a better track record of controlling the spread of the virus.

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Australia even closed its internal borders for the first time in decades during the pandemic to stop the virus getting out of hand.

Studies published this winter revealed that the UK’s second wave was fuelled by travel, too – so the public health reasons for restricting movement are there for all to see.

Despite all of this, Pierce appeared on Nick Ferrari’s LBC show this morning railing against Scotland’s First Minister for daring to suggest bringing about further restrictions.

The National:

He insisted any new travel restrictions would be more about the upcoming Holyrood elections, rather than, you know, controlling the deadly virus that has led to more than 100,000 deaths across the UK, or getting a handle on its concerning variants.

Discussing the First Minister’ failure to rule out shutting the Border, Ferrari said: “The practicalities of this, I don’t know how they would close the Border Andrew – good morning.”

Pierce responded: “Morning Nick. Well I don’t know if she even can actually. Because I think it takes two to tango, and I’m not sure that the Government in Westminster would agree.

“If you just think about the Scottish Border. It’s 90 miles in length, how are they going to police that, how are they going to stop people going across the Border in a car, a pushbike, a motorbike? Are they going to have the army there? It’s the British Army actually, Mrs Sturgeon, it’s not your flipping army.”

The journalist asked how railways and roads could be monitoring and suggested people might “swim across”.

READ MORE: Covid: Scotland passes England in percentage of population vaccinated

“So I think she’s talking out of her kilt,” he told the programme. “This isn’t about Covid, Nick, in my view. This is about her obsession with always trying to outdo Boris Johnson. She’s going to announce today about schools because the British Prime Minister will announce on March 8 about schools – she always wants to be one step ahead.”

He went on: “What this is really about in my view, and I do think she’s one of the most irritating people in British politics, it’s about the local elections in May – she wants a huge, huge majority for the SNP in the Scottish Parliament so she can then say, even though she said it would only be a once in a lifetime vote back in 2016, she can say we’re having another Scottish referendum which wouldn’t be binding because it has to be agreed by the Westminster Parliament.”

(If you want to be considered an expert voice on Scottish politics, Andrew, it might be a good start to get the date of Scotland’s indyref right … )

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“That’s what this is about. So she’s now getting really tough,” he added. “Even Alex Salmond in his pomp when he was first minister never threatened to close the Border.”

Does anyone else remember there being a deadly global pandemic that completely changed our way of life during Salmond’s time as first minister? Us neither – which might explain the lack of reason to control movement.

As we approach the election, and support for independence stays strong, it’s likely we’ll hear lots more of this kind of thing from the UK media.

We know in Scotland that our First Minister has huge support from the public – we can see it in a succession of polls and surveys on attitudes during the pandemic.

We know that the Scottish Government has introduced tight travel restrictions because if we continue importing Covid-19 in via our international borders this pandemic is going to go on for a lot longer, and there will be preventable deaths.

Brace yourselves – this kind of nonsense will be thrown at us more and more, but people in Scotland are smart enough to know it’s nonsense.