BORIS Johnson is the “most hostile to Scotland” of any Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher, the SNP have said as the country faces post-Brexit turmoil, price hikes as well as food and fuel shortages.

The party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford made the assessment as the PM refused to reverse a £20 a week cut to Universal Credit as he prepares to address the Conservative party conference in Manchester.

The benefit was raised by £20 a week at the start of the pandemic but the uplift ends today with critics warning millions of families on low incomes will now be worse off by £1040 a year.

Blackford (below) called for the Prime Minister to use his conference speech to commit to a multi-billion pound Brexit Recovery Fund and an emergency package to help household budgets. He added independence is the only way “to keep Scotland safe from Tory cuts” and the long-term damage of Brexit.

The National: Ian Blackford

READ MORE: Tory suggests poorer families should have fewer children as benefits slashed

“Boris Johnson cannot escape the fact that his Tory government has plunged the UK into crisis and left millions of families poorer and worse off,” he said.

“The people of Scotland didn’t vote for this Tory government, and they certainly didn’t vote for Brexit – yet we are now suffering the consequences of both. People are struggling to heat their homes, to get fuel for their cars and are becoming alarmed by empty shelves in supermarkets as winter approaches.

"On Boris Johnson’s watch, the UK has the worst levels of poverty and inequality in North West Europe, the least generous social security system, and the highest levels of in-work poverty this century.

“Today, the Prime Minister needs to set out a comprehensive plan to fix the mess that he has done so much to create ... Boris Johnson is more hostile to Scotland than any Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher – showing a contempt for Scottish democracy and complete indifference to the suffering that the Tories’ cruel policies are inflicting on ordinary Scots.”

He added: “Scotland is one of the wealthiest, most resource-rich countries in the world. The only way to avoid more Tory cuts and the long-term damage of Brexit is to become an independent country, with the full powers needed to regain our place in Europe and build a strong, fair and equal recovery.”

Blackford’s intervention comes as it emerged one child every second will be affected by the widely opposed cut to Universal Credit (UC) on average over the next month.

Save the Children is one of a long line of charities, think tanks, unions and leaders from across the political spectrum hitting out against the removal of the £20-a-week uplift.

From today, no assessments will include the uplift, meaning that from October 13 – a week later – no payments will be received that include the extra money.

The cut will be staggered over 31 days as families receive payments on different dates, Save the Children said.

Just more than 3.5 million children in the UK are living in households that receive UC payments, according to Government figures.

​READ MORE: Child poverty targets ‘in danger of being missed’, charity says as benefits cut

Gwen Hines, Save the Children’s chief executive, said children’s futures depended on the UK Government reinstating the lifeline.

She said: “People we work with tell us they’ve been relying on this £20 lifeline to buy essentials like food and clothing for themselves and their children. Without it, tens of thousands more children are facing a cold and hungry winter.”

Helen Barnard, deputy director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “Today the Prime Minister has imposed the biggest ever overnight cut to social security.

“It makes a mockery of his mission to ‘level up’. Despite overwhelming opposition, he is ploughing ahead with a cut which fundamentally undermines the adequacy of our vital social security system as we face a cost-of-living crisis.”

A Government spokesman said: “We’ve always been clear that the uplift to Universal Credit was temporary.

“It was designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and it has done so.”