ALISTER Jack has hit out at political opponents who have questioned the validity of Boris Johnson’s visit to Scotland on Thursday as engaging in "petty politics at a time of crisis".

Christina McKelvie, the Scottish Government Minister for Older People and Equalities, expressed doubt as to whether the Prime Minister’s trip, the first of 2021, would count as "essential work" under Covid rules.

Her SNP colleague, MP Neil Gray, accused the PM of "total disrespect and disregard for 'do not travel unless absolutely necessary'".

Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland, insisted Mr Johnson should not just “stand around for staged photoshoots” on his visit to a location in the Central Belt.

The former Scottish Secretary also pointed out how the UK Conservative leader could be breaking the coronavirus rules - which state that travel is only permitted for essential purposes, including work - if he did not have a good reason for coming to Scotland.

But Mr Jack tore into the criticism of Mr Johnson’s visit, branding it “utter nonsense”.

The Scottish Secretary told The Herald: “He is Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He is visiting Scotland for very good reasons; the details of the visit are not being released for security purposes.”

It is thought that Mr Johnson’s visit is Covid-related and might involve witnessing the Army’s involvement in the rollout of the vaccine programme.

Mr Jack declared: “He has good reason to visit; he is Prime Minister of the UK. All the people on the trip with him will be lateral-flow tested before they leave and all Covid rules will be adhered to.

The Secretary of State said he believed his political opponents were engaging in "ridiculous" party games.

"We know there is a geographical border but it is not a physical border. We are one United Kingdom and he is Prime Minister of that United Kingdom,” declared Mr Jack.

He added his “robust reply” was “directed at these SNP MPs who want to play petty politics at a time of crisis”.