Boris Johnson has cancelled a virtual coronavirus “summit” with the devolved leaders after it was branded a “PR exercise”.
The prime minister invited the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish leaders to a meeting tomorrow to discuss the “shared challenges” facing the UK after the pandemic.
But the meeting was pulled this afternoon in response to a joint letter signed by Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford.
The letter stated: “We are writing about the proposed 4-nations summit on Covid recovery, which you have suggested should take place this Thursday afternoon.
“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.”
It added: “Further discussion between our officials, leading to the summit taking place on an agreed date, perhaps as early as next week, would allow for a much more meaningful exercise, and avoid the risk of it being just a PR or box-ticking exercise.”
Number 10 confirmed the meeting had been cancelled this afternoon, a spokesman added: “It is disappointing that the Scottish Government feel the need to delay this meeting so they have more time to prepare.”
Asked whether it would be rescheduled, the prime minister’s spokesman said: “The PM is keen to speak to the first ministers about our recovery, we want to do that as soon as possible but we don’t have a date set.
“We want to work with them to find a new date to schedule this.”
The meeting would have been the first time the leaders have met since the May 6 elections, in which the SNP won a historic fourth Holyrood term.