Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been “shut out” of the UK Government’s coronavirus strategy, Ian Blackford has claimed.
The SNP Westminster leader said the concerns of devolved nations were sidelined in the UK Government decision to adopt a new “stay alert” strategy and relax certain lockdown measures for England.
The decision to move away from the “stay home” message on Sunday, which has been in use across all four nations of the UK, was met with widespread criticism this week.
Events on Sunday could not have been more disastrous for the UK gov. Devolved administrations were shut out, widespread confusion amongst the public reigned and there was a total disregard for workers safety. We cannot threaten progress that has been made #PMQs #Coronavirus pic.twitter.com/44eCzbGAYa
— Ian Blackford (@Ianblackford_MP) May 13, 2020
Mr Blackford, speaking at prime minister’s questions via video link from Skye, said the move had caused “confusion”.
He said: “Events on Sunday could not have been more disastrous from this Government. The prime minister has made confusion costly.
“Devolved administrations shut out, widespread confusion amongst the public and a total disregard from this Government for workers’ safety. Many sadly have seen the images of London buses being packed this morning.
“Will the prime minister accept that the clear message in Scotland is ‘stay home to protect the NHS to save lives’?”
Mr Johnson, responding, said: “The message throughout the country is of course that you should stay at home if you can, unless there’s specific circumstances that we’ve outlined apply.
“I must say, I don’t accept that characterisation of the co-operation that we’ve had across all four nations that Mr Blackford makes.
“In my experience, it’s been intense, it’s been going on for days and days and weeks and weeks, and actually I think if you look at the totality of the measures that we’re taking as country, there is much more that unites us than divides us and we will go forward together.”
The comments came after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer grilled the prime minister over previous advice issued to care homes by the UK Government, which stated “it remains very unlikely that people receiving care in a care home will become infected”.
The PM denied that the government had been too slow to protect people in care homes, and that the advice said “it remains very unlikely that people receiving care in a care home will become infected” until March 12.
But Starmer has the receipts: pic.twitter.com/rNgeKmELKj
— Hannah Al-Othman Says Stay Inside (@HannahAlOthman) May 13, 2020
Sir Keir said: “In his speech on Sunday the Prime Minister said we need to rapidly reverse the awful epidemic in our care homes, but earlier this year, and until March 12, the Government’s own official advice was, and I’m quoting from it, ‘it remains very unlikely that people receiving care in a care home will become infected’.
“Yesterday’s ONS figures show that at least 40% of all deaths from Covid-19 were in care homes. Does the Prime Minister accept that the Government was too slow to protect people in care homes?”
Mr Johnson replied: “No, it wasn’t true that the advice said that, and actually we brought the lockdown in care homes ahead of the general lockdown.”
He added: “And a huge exercise in testing is going on, a further £600 million I can announce today for infection control in care homes, and, yes, it is absolutely true that the number of casualties has been too high but I can tell the House, as I told Sir Keir last week and indeed this week, the number of outbreaks is down and the number of fatalities in care homes is now well down.”