UK and Scottish governments to release shared statement on Covid

Michael Gove has revealed a shared statement is to be issued from the UK government and all devolved administrations on tackling Covid-19, but he would not confirm if it would contain a pledge to eliminate coronavirus.
A joint statement is to be issuesA joint statement is to be issues
A joint statement is to be issues

Mr Gove, in Scotland to meet Highland hospitality businesses, said the government's of the four nations had been “working well” together despite what he called “political noises off”.

He said that at the request of the devolved administrations a "shared statement" would be issued soon about tackling coronavirus across the UK.

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"I was talking to Nicola just last Friday and we agreed we would shortly release a shared statement across the UK about our approach towards the virus so whatever noises off we’ve had in the past, the right approach, the approach we discussed on Friday and shared on Saturday is to work well together,” he said.

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Asked if the statement would focus on elimination of the virus which Nicola Sturgeon has said is the Scottish Government's aim, he said: “I don't want to pre-empt what we’ll say in that statement as it will be shared, and we will have shared language, and all of us have a shared desire to beat back the virus as effectively as possible.

"Of course there are different policy interventions at different times, but we're moving towards the same goal. So at the suggestion of the devolved administraitons and with our enthusiastic support we’ll be saying more later about how we can reinforce working together across the UK in order to beat the virus."

Mr Gove said as part of collaborative working he had held regular calls with First Ministers and Deputy First Ministers “to share our perspective and the experiences we have and to compare and contrast approaches”.

He added: “All of the governments recognise that inevitably the reality is of greater cooperation and all administrations have been working in the interests of the health of our citizens. And we all want to stress that our overall aim is to reduce risk of the virus but of course the nature of the statement will depend on the precise emphasis that each devovled administration wants to put in it and we will work to make sure that is reinforced. Even if were travelling at different paces at different times, overall we're working together.”

The Cabinet Secretary was at pains to stress the co-operation between the UK and Scottish governments over coronavirus, including the decision to reintroduce quarantine for travellers from Spain.

"We’ve been working well over the past few weeks with the Scottish Government in order to make sure we have a shared approach. Just on Saturday I was chairing a call where Humza Yousaf was a key participant, where we made the decision, the difficult but necessary decision to keep people safe, to take a new approach towards Spain.

"The right approach is recognising there are different circumstances in different parts of the UK and different administrations might want to take a different approach because of these specific circumstances. The right thing for us is to work together and coordinate together.”

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He added: “I've had more than 40 meetings with ministers from devolved administrations to make sure we work well together. My view is to concentrate on the positive and coordination. There may be some political noises off, but my approach is to work with all the devolved administrations.

He also denied that the Prime Minister's visit to Orkney and Lossiemouth last week was politically motivated as a result of panic in Westminister at opinion polls showing increased and sustained support for Scottish independence. Nicola Sturgeon criticised Boris Johnson's visit as “championing and celebrating” the coronavirus pandemic as a way to prove the case for the union.

"My own view is that we should put politics aside in order to concentrate on fighting the virus and defending public health,” Mr Gove said. "The Prime Minister's visit last week was like any other he'd make to any part of the UK."

He was emphasising that the UK Treasury has taken the steps to protect jobs and to support livelihoods that all of us would like to see and whether you're in Kirkwall or in England you are a beneficiary of the strength of the UK Treasury and its capacity to borrow at attractive rates and to maintain the economic stability which is good for all of us.

"The Prime Minister also referred to the additional powers the Scottish Parliament will be getting at the end of the year. So far from it being a political visit it was a visit from the UK Prime Minister to a part of our UK as a way of emphasising we strongly support devolution and by the end of this year Holyrood will be in a stronger position with more powers.”

Scottish independence

Asked about the possibiity of Scottish independence, he said that he didn’t want his children to grow up with their grandparents on the other side of a border.

“I don't think it's a good idea that those who want to be Scottish and British should be forced to choose. I think that what devolution allows is Scottish solutions to Scottish problems and UK support for every part of the country and an approach that respects Scotland’s distinct identity and Scots own prorities within the framework of the union is important.”

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Editorial Director



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