SENIOR SNP politicians have welcomed Boris Johnson’s plan to visit Scotland more often – because the move will help increase support for independence.

A spokesperson for Constitutional Affairs Secretary Michael Russell indicated the Prime Minister’s intention to spend more time north of the border will weaken the Union. He said: “Boris Johnson is kidding himself if he thinks making more trips to Scotland is going to boost his popularity or do anything to bolster the Union.

“It is more likely to have completely the opposite effect, because the more that the people of Scotland see and hear of Boris Johnson and his out of touch, arrogant gang of ministers, the more that support for independence will grow. If the Prime Minister wants to make more trips to Scotland he is very welcome to – but he should be in no doubt about the likely impact it will have.”

The National: SNP MP Pete Wishart

MP Pete Wishart added: “Boris Johnson thinks he’s doing the Union a favour by pledging to spend more time in Scotland, but the reality is that this toxic Tory Prime Minister is one of the best recruiting tools for the Scottish independence movement.”

Tory insiders revealed the Prime Minister intends to travel to the country and stay for longer in his capacity as Minister for the Union following Brexit day next week.

It was also reported he will dispatch members of his Government more regularly to Scotland in a bid to persuade Scots that they should remain in the UK.

READ MORE: Gordon Brown calls for Brexit powers to go to UK regions, not Westminster

The Herald reported yesterday that the Prime Minister was planning to hold more full Cabinet meetings in Scotland. “Once Brexit is done on January 31 the big focus domestically will be on strengthening the Union,” one senior Government source said: “Scotland is going to see a lot more of Boris and his ministers in 2020.”

Another Tory insider noted: “Once more people see Boris on the ground, they will warm to him. He has to have longer stays in Scotland, for two or three days, and not just be seen as a visiting Governor General who pops across the border every now and again for a few hours.”

The Government’s plans for more ministerial visits to Scotland come after the PM rejected the First Minister’s request for Holyrood to have powers to hold a second independence referendum.

The National: Nicola Sturgeon

Johnson knocked back the call by Nicola Sturgeon despite the SNP winning 48 out of 59 Scottish seats at the General Election where the party campaigned on a platform to hold a new vote towards the end of next year. In his letter he said the 2014 vote was a “once in a generation” vote.

His decision led to Ian Blackford, the SNP Westminster leader, say Johnson was showing contempt for Scotland and described him at last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions as a “democracy denier”.

The First Minister is due to set out her government’s next steps to Johnson’s move before the end of the month. At Holyrood, MSPs are expected to back Scotland’s “right to choose” its future in a fresh debate and vote.

An Ipsos MORI telephone poll of 1046 adults, conducted between November 19 and 25, showed Johnson is a toxic figure among Scots voters. His approval rating — the balance of people who are satisfied and unsatisfied with a leader — was minus 52. His party lost seven of its 13 MPs in the General Election and got just 25% of the vote.

Meanwhile, it has emerged the Dunlop Review on “strengthening the Union”, commissioned by Theresa May when she was PM, will be published to coincide with Johnson’s reshuffle and plans for Government departments next month. Much thought is being given to the relationship between the Cabinet Office, run by Michael Gove, No 10 and its Union Unit and the Scotland Office.