Go to STV News

Burns Night is part of UK's 'enduring union', says May

The Prime Minister will host a Burns Supper in Downing Street on Monday.

By STV News

Published 22 Jan 2018.

Burns Night is a chance to celebrate Scotland's "enduring union" with the rest of the UK, the Prime Minister has said.

Theresa May is hosting a Burns supper at Number 10 on Monday before she travels to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland later this week.

The suppers are traditionally held on the poet's birthday on January 25th and are used to celebrate his contribution to Scottish culture.

Speaking ahead of the event, May said: "Scotland is a greatly valued part of our United Kingdom and its contribution to the UK is immense-economically, socially, and culturally.

"And Robert Burns is a great example of that, as one of our finest poets, famous worldwide.

"I'm very much looking forward to this evening and the chance to celebrate a great poet, a great nation and an enduring union."

Despite the Prime Minister lauding Burns as a symbol of the union, the man himself was a critic of the institution.

The Ayrshire Bard penned Such a Parcel of Rogues in 1791, a poem which criticises those Scots who signed the Act of Union with England in 1707.

The work derided the 19th century Scottish elite as a "a coward few" who had been "bought and sold for English gold".

In response to May's remarks, a spokesman for the SNP said: "Robert Burns's poetry still resonates today with its message of justice, egalitarianism and solidarity-and he famously lambasted the Treaty of Union, lamenting Scotland's loss of independence, in one of his best known works.

"While many have learned a great deal from Burns's poetry, it doesn't appear that Theresa May is one of them."