Former First Minister Lord McConnell calls idea of using different tracing app in Scotland ‘nonsense’

An automatic contact-tracing smartphone app being developed by the UK government will only be used in Scotland if the First Minister is “confident it works”.

It would be “nonsense” for different Covid-19 tracing apps to be used in different parts of the UK, Former First Minister Lord McConnell has argued today.

In an interview with STV, the 59-year-old called “a bit more unity” in Holyrood and Westminster, as the UK develops a lockdown exit strategy, adding that he was “particularly concerned about these apps.”

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It comes as Nicola Sturgeon expressed reluctance to recommend an automatic tracing app currently being trialled on the Isle of Wight.

Lord Jack McConnell of Glenscorrodale has called the idea of using separate tracing apps in parts of the UK "nonsense". (Photo by Helene Wiesenhaan/Getty Images for IMCP)

Mr McConnell, who served as First Minister of Scotland from 2001 to 2007, told interviewers: “As we come out of the period of lockdown, I think there’s a need for a bit more unity - not just in messaging but in the systems that are put in place.”

“Of course these decisions need to be made autonomously in Edinburgh, and Cardiff, and in Belfast, and of course in London, but I do think we should be having, for example, one tracing app across the whole of the UK.”

Yesterday, Scotland’s national clinical director, Professor Jason Leitch, explained that the Scottish government wanted “to be sure of the security of the app, of its use - that it will work - before we layer it on top of what we’re already planning.”

But Mr McConnell insisted that a single app was essential to help trace contacts made by people who travel to work, or meet family, across the English-Scottish border.

“I think it would be nonsense if there were different apps operating in different parts of the UK, so I would strongly recommend that the health secretaries in London and Edinburgh and Cardiff and Belfast need to sit down and make an agreement on this that works for everybody and not go off on their own directions - even though the decisions are autonomous and they have a right to do so,” he finished.

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