Welsh FM: Boris Johnson ‘only speaks for England’ on lockdown

The First Minister of Wales has warned that Boris Johnson only speaks for England on easing the coronavirus lockdown, ahead of the Prime Minister’s address to the country on Sunday.

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford

Mr Johnson is expected to set out a staged plan for easing social distancing measures. However, the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales have both said the lockdown should continue.

Following a telephone call with Nicola Sturgeon yesterday, Mr Johnson accepted that the devolved nations could move a “slightly different speeds”, with the decline in the outbreak thought to be less advanced north of the border.

In a message to the Westminster press lobby made up of journalists covering the UK Parliament, a senior press officer in the Officer of the First Minister of Wales reminded reporters that any announcements made by the Prime Minister on Sunday “relate to England only”.

The message, sent on 7 May and circulated to journalists this morning, stated: “We wanted to reiterate the following: The decision to impose a UK-wide “lockdown” on 23 March 2020 was made following a meeting of COBRA, based on advice from SAGE.

“Implementation of the lockdown is, however, a matter for the UK Government in respect of England only.

“Power to impose the lockdown in Wales rests with the Welsh Government and the Welsh Government has discretion about how it should be implemented.

“We would ask that it is made very clear in reporting that any decisions the UK Government take and subsequently announce, relate to England only.”

Ministers in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast have all said they support a UK-wide approach to lockdown, but that position has come under increasing strain, with the devolved nations taking different positions on areas under their control including health and education, affecting school openings and testing policy.

Ms Sturgeon warned yesterday that plans by the UK Government to abandon the prominent ‘Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’ slogan could be “catastrophic”.

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