Nicola Sturgeon has delivered a brutal verdict on the current and former prime ministers, claiming Boris Johnson tried to put his arm around her back and that talking to Theresa May was “soul destroying”.
In a candid and indiscreet interview, Scotland’s first minister said her conversation with Mr Johnson last week was “crazy”, while Mrs May would never depart from a script, which made conversation awkward.
Ms Sturgeon’s withering disclosures came in an Edinburgh Fringe Festival event with broadcaster Iain Dale in which she claimed there was growing support for Scottish independence and a growing sense of urgency,
Asked by Mr Dale about the difference between her meetings with Mrs May and her first encounter with Mr Johnson at her Bute House official residence, she replied: “It was a very different experience.
“I don’t want to be too derogatory or pejorative about Theresa May. She’s obviously no longer prime minister, but having conversations with Theresa May was pretty soul destroying.
“She would never depart from a script, no matter where you tried to take the conversation.
“I remember in one meeting, going in and trying to think about how can we get this meeting off on a sort of gentler start before we immediately got into the areas where we disagreed.
“And she had, as she often did, a fantastic pair of shoes, a really stylish pair of shoes. And I quite like shoes, so I started the meeting off by saying, ‘before we get onto Brexit, fantastic shoes’, and in that instant I could see in her eyes, that she didn’t have an answer in the script before her for this.
“So it became, what should have been a light-hearted moment, really quite awkward.
“So talking to Boris, at least it was like having a conversation, albeit a bit of a crazy one.
“And you could debate and share views and disagree on things, more than agree, so I’ll say that for him. It’s a different experience.”
Describing the Bute House meeting, when Mr Johnson was booed by protesters as he arrived, Ms Sturgeon said: “I just remember he came up the steps, we did the handshake.
“We were meant to stand to get a picture taken together and then suddenly behind him came these hordes of people – I think he had about 33 people with him for whatever reason.
“So I think I was just trying to organise everybody. And then the new Secretary of State for Scotland [Alister Jack] came up to me, and I don’t mean this as any insult to him, but I didn’t immediately recognise him so it was kind of, ‘who are you trying to get in my hoose?!
“Then I realised who it was, ushered him in and then I was aware Boris was about to do that thing that guys sometimes do to women and no doubt, you claim it’s chivalrous, sometimes it is chivalrous, other times it’s patronising, which is to kind of usher you in and put their arm around your back and I decided I didn’t really want that to happen.”
Ms Sturgeon added: “Boris Johnson is a prime minister that the vast of majority of people in Scotland, had they been given any choice, would not have chosen to give the keys of Number 10 Downing Street to.
“He’s a prime minister who is intent on taking us out of Europe against our will, looks intent on taking us out without a deal and the catastrophe that would bring about I think is well understood here.
“So I wasn’t overly thrilled to be standing on the steps of Bute House welcoming Boris Johnson as prime minister.”
On independence, the first minister said: “I think there is growing support for independence in Scotland.
“And I think there is, accompanying that, a growing sense of urgency that if we don’t want to get dragged down a path – and I’m not just talking about Brexit here, although largely that’s what I mean – but dragged down a sort of political path that we don’t want to go down, then we need to consider becoming independent sooner rather than later.
Ms Sturgeon added: “I think the case for independence is an entirely optimistic one, it’s about being in charge of our future, it’s about making our own luck, owning our own mistakes and learning from them.”
Ms Sturgeon also described her “personal pain and anguish” at being separated from Alex Salmond as he faces trial for a series of alleged sex crimes.
She told the Edinburgh Fringe audience she missed her mentor and predecessor after the allegations meant a change in their 30-year relationship.
She said it was difficult for her to talk about him, for both personal and legal reasons, but described him as a “really important, dominant person” in her life.
Mr Salmond was charged in January this year with 14 offences, including two of attempted rape, nine of sexual assault and two of indecent assault. He strongly denies all the allegations.