Dominic Cummings has accused Nicola Sturgeon of undermining the Covid response by “babbling” about private discussions at Cobra meetings.
In evidence to the House of Commons science committee, he said: “As soon as you had these meetings Nicola Sturgeon would just go straight out announce what she wanted straight afterwards.
“So you had these completely Potemkin meetings without anyone actually digging into the reality in detail, because everybody thought as soon as the meeting is finish everyone’s going to just pop up on TV and start babbling.”
Mr Cummings also suggested the views of Ms Sturgeon and other devolved leaders on the pandemic were not considered by Downing Street.
He said: “I can’t really say if they were well listened to or not, I can’t really remember what they were saying and I can’t really remember much of the discussion around that.”
Prime Minister to meet devolved leaders
The comments come ahead of a scheduled Covid summit between the prime minister and the first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on Thursday.
In what is being seen as an attempt to reset relationships with the devolved governments, the prime minister will ask the leaders to work with him “in the interests of the people we serve”.
The meeting will be the first time the leaders have met since the May 6 elections, in which the SNP won a historic fourth Holyrood term.
Cummings says Cobra with Sturgeon and other devolved leaders last year amounted to no more than 'Potemkin meetings' as 'everybody thought as soon as the meeting finished everybody is going to just pop up on TV and start babbling'
Babbling? Informing the public maybe?
— Dan O'Donoghue (@MrDanDonoghue) May 26, 2021
Writing to the devolved leaders earlier this month, 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.
He added: “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.”
But he warned it would be a “difficult journey”, adding: “The broad shoulders of the UK have supported jobs and businesses the length and breadth of the country, but we know that economic recovery will be a serious shared responsibility.”
Ms Sturgeon, along with Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, have said the summit must be a “meaningful discussion with substantive outcomes”.