Police Scotland changed an “Operation Bunter” codename for Boris Johnson’s next trip to Scotland in case the prime minister found it offensive, according to a report.
Mr Johnson is thought to be preparing his next visit north of the border in coming days – but the security name for the trip is said to have been switched because it was deemed too close to the overweight, fictional schoolboy Billy Bunter.
The name was changed from Operation Bunter to Operation Aeration to avoid causing “some sort of diplomatic incident”, according to The Sun.
A source told the newspaper said: “The name Operation Bunter was given to the preparations. But several people pointed out the foolishness of calling it after a fat, posh English public schoolboy – not least given the PM is known for being a bit portly.”
They added: “Operation Aeration was selected as the alternative. But I’m not sure moving away from Billy Bunter to a name that implies the PM is full of air is much of an improvement.”
Mr Johnson is set to make a trip to Scotland later this week, according to The Telegraph – his first jaunt north of the border in six months.
The prime minister is believed to have dropped his plan to head to Scotland during the recent Holyrood election campaign, amid fears it could damage the Scottish Conservative Party’s fortunes.
Police Scotland did not deny reports of a name change for Mr Johnson’s upcoming trip, but would not comment on the particular operational names.
A spokeswoman for the force told The Independent: “Operational names are auto-generated by computer and can be changed if deemed to be inappropriate.”
It comes as Michael Gove sparked excitement among SNP figures by saying Mr Johnson’s government would not stand in the way of a second independence referendum if the desire to have another say becomes the “settled will” of Scottish voters.
“The principle that the people of Scotland – in the right circumstances – can ask that question again is there,” the Cabinet Office minister told the Sunday Mail.
Mr Gove added: “I just don’t think that it is right, and the public don’t think it is right, to ask that question at the moment. If it is the case that there is clearly a settled will in favour of a referendum, then one will occur.”
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford MP said: “It should not be news that the Tories are finally waking up to the fact that the people of Scotland have expressed their democratic wishes in an election that they want their future to be put into their hands.”
He added: “The fundamental point Michael Gove missed is that the people of Scotland have spoken and expressed their settled will that they want to hold a referendum when they elected a majority of independence supporting MSPs to the Scottish Parliament just over two months ago.”
Nicola Sturgeon’s party is set to push for indyref2 at next month’s party conference. Reports indicate a motion states that legislation for another referendum should be introduced at “at the earliest moment” after a “clear end” to the Covid crisis.
The latest Panelbase poll shows 52 per cent of Scots favour staying in the union and 48 per cent back a breakaway.