BORIS Johnson has been urged to provide clarity on the future of free Covid testing in the UK after being accused of “sowing confusion” on the issue.

During his trip to Scotland, the Prime Minister declined to say whether his Government was planning on ending free Covid tests. This led to accusations that he was looking to bring forward a new pay-per-test policy, against health advice, to “save his own skin”.

Such a move from the UK Government would see a fall in Barnett consequentials for the devolved nations, meaning that the cash for tests would need to be found elsewhere in the Scottish Government’s budget.

The news follows Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf warning that this loss of funding would "effectively force our hand to respond in a way we don’t want to do at this immediate time".

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf tells Boris Johnson not to 'force our hand' by ending free Covid tests

Asked about the issue, Johnson said: “We will continue to work with our colleagues in Scotland, but I believe the similarities in our approach [to the pandemic] vastly outweigh the differences.”

Iain Stewart, a Tory minister in the Scotland Office, also declined to address the issue when asked on the BBC.

Appearing on Good Morning Scotland, Stewart said: “What we’ve said is that next week, if the figures and Covid continue the way they are, we’ll be setting out a comprehensive plan on what living with Covid in a normal sense looks like, but I am not sighted on what might be in that.”

The SNP said that the UK Government must confirm Covid test funding for devolved nations, pointing to a YouGov poll from earlier this month which found almost eight in 10 Scots think lateral flow tests should remain free.

Reports have said that a seven-pack of lateral flows could sell for £30 if they are no longer made freely available.

Martyn Day MP, the SNP health spokesperson at Westminster, said: "The UK Government must confirm that it will continue to fund Covid-19 testing for devolved nations - after the confusion caused by Boris Johnson and his Tory ministers.

"Any changes to Covid testing must be guided by expert public health advice through the chief medical officers. It would be typically reckless for the Westminster government to simply impose changes in a bid to appease Tory backbenchers and save the Prime Minister's skin.

"Scotland's more safe and cautious approach to the pandemic has seen better outcomes. We must continue to be guided by the scientific evidence, and not by Downing Street's concerns over the number of letters of 'no confidence' in Boris Johnson from Tory MPs."

The National: Boris Johnson

The Tory government has already seemed to U-turn once on the issue.

Reports in January of plans to scrap free Covid testing were met with outrage, but one minister insisted that was "absolutely not" the case.

Sage, the independent group of advisers who have been counselling the Government throughout the pandemic, cautioned against removing free testing.

The group said getting rid of free testing would make it harder for people to take precautions and “may also increase anxiety among those who have found testing reassuring after possible exposure, particularly those who are, or live with, someone who is clinically vulnerable”.

“Some people may also take the removal of free and accessible testing as a signal that they should continue to attend workplaces/social gatherings while showing Covid-19 symptoms, as these become conflated with other symptoms of respiratory illness such as influenza,” the group added.