Downing Street says 'Union summit' with Nicola Sturgeon delayed by Scottish Government

Downing Street has claimed the “Union summit” planned for Thursday with Nicola Sturgeon has been delayed by the Scottish Government.

A war of words has broken out between Westminster and Holyrood over the cancellation of the ”Union summit” planned for Thursday.

The Prime Minister had called the meeting with the devolved leaders in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland after this month’s elections and said the UK was “best served when we work together”.

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However, the meeting has now been postponed, with the Scottish Government claiming its UK counterpart had not “remotely prepared” for the meeting and were instead due to hold what they dubbed a “PR exercise without proper substance”.

Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: AFP via Getty ImagesNicola Sturgeon. Picture: AFP via Getty Images
Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: AFP via Getty Images

The UK Government, however, has accused Ms Sturgeon’s party of delaying the summit due to needing more time to prepare.

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The PM’s spokesman explained the UK’s approach to Covid had been boosted by “unity” and expressed hope to continue working together in that spirit.

The spokesperson said: “It is disappointing that the Scottish Government feel the need to delay this meeting so they have more time to prepare.”

Mr Johnson had written a letter to Ms Sturgeon and Labour First Minister Mark Drakeford for a summit to “discuss our shared challenges”.

He said: “I believe passionately that the interests of people across the UK … are best served when we work together.

“I would like to invite you to join me, UK Government colleagues and others at a summit meeting to discuss our shared challenges and how we can work together in the coming months and years to overcome them.

“We will all have our own perspectives and ideas – and we will not always agree – but I am confident that by learning from each other we will be able to build back better, in the interests of the people we serve.”

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Mr Johnson said the country needed to “show the same spirit of unity and co-operation that marked our fight against the pandemic” in engineering a Covid-19 recovery for the UK.

The decision comes after Ms Sturgeon and Mr Drakeford wrote to the Prime Minister on Tuesday calling for greater clarity and substance around the proposed one-day Covid recovery summit.

In the letter, they wrote: "We are both deeply committed to taking part in such a summit and to working appropriately together on Covid recovery – but, as we are sure you do, we want the meeting to be a meaningful discussion with substantive outcomes, and not just a PR exercise.

“Our view is that this will be best achieved if further detailed preparation is done in advance.”

A spokesperson for the First Minister said: “The summit would be going ahead [on Thursday] if the UK Government were remotely prepared for it.

" As we and the Welsh Government made clear in our letter to the Prime Minister, what they had suggested was simply a PR exercise without proper substance. We have asked for a detailed agenda to be prepared for a serious meeting, which is what this subject deserves.”

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