British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he fights in Llandudno, North Wales on April 26, 2021.

PHIL NOBLE | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON – UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce on Monday that the government will move ahead with the next phase of the lockdown in England. Another bid for an independence vote in Scotland threatens to overshadow Westminster in the coming weeks and months.

Johnson’s cabinet is expected to sign on Monday the further relaxation of lockdown measures from May 17, when international travel can resume in most circumstances, although quarantines and testing will be required for the most part on returns to the UK.

Pubs and restaurants are also expected to welcome customers indoors again, and indoor mixing can be resumed for groups of up to six people. The government hopes to lift all restrictions on social contact by June 21st.

Ministers will meet on Monday morning to agree on the next steps, the BBC reported on Monday. Johnson is expected to say the data will support further easing of measures, and the public could be informed of whether closer personal contact with friends and family, such as family members, could be required. B. Hugging is allowed, the broadcaster added.

The expected announcement of another lockdown comes at a time when a political storm is brewing north of the border after Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon promised on Saturday to press ahead with plans for a new referendum on independence from Britain

The comments from Sturgeon, chairman of the Scottish National Party (SNP) came after the party won just one seat less than the overall majority in the Scottish general election last Thursday. The party is expected to seek support from the Scottish Green Party, another party for independence, in calling for another referendum.

Johnson has said he would try to block a second referendum on independence, but Sturgeon has insisted that the election result show that there is a mandate for a second vote.

“The only people who can decide the future of Scotland are the Scots, and no Westminster politician can or should stand in the way,” Sturgeon told the BBC on Sunday.

A vote for independence cannot be taken for granted. In the last vote in 2014, 44.7% of the electorate voted for independence and 55.3% against split, and question marks about Scotland’s economic viability as an independent nation remain unanswered.

The 2016 Brexit vote was a catalyst for divisions in the UK. Most of Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU, while a majority in Wales and England voted to leave. The complexity of Northern Ireland’s role in the post-Brexit trade deal and the perception that it was sacrificed during the negotiation process with the EU has made some experts question whether a push towards reunification with the rest of Ireland could get stronger.