First Minister criticises Boris Johnson’s Government over communication

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The First Minister of Wales has criticised Boris Johnson’s Government for a lack of communication on how Britain moves together out of coronavirus lockdown.

Mark Drakeford said there had been no discussions this week between representatives of the administrations in Cardiff and Westminster.

He spoke of his “disappointment” at the lack of meetings and said he feared for a “splurge of contact” in the days running up to the next three-week review of the lockdown regulations.

“I’m afraid this week has been one of the stops in the stop-start process,” Mr Drakeford told the daily Welsh Government briefing.

“Last week in the run up to the change in the regulations we had good meetings with the UK Government on four of the five days.

“I am disappointed that a whole week has gone by without any meeting of that sort.”

“It’s a disappointment to me that one of only three weeks we have got has now gone by without any contact of that sort,” he said.

“What I don’t want to see is a sudden splurge of contact in the few days before decisions have got to be made.

“That’s not the best way to make sure that we share information, that we understand one another’s perspectives and do what I’ve always wanted us to do, which is to move ahead together in a uniform, UK pattern.

“I hope we will see a resumption of discussions early next week because that is the way to keep the UK on the same track.”

This week has seen a divergence between the UK Government and the administrations in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, as the lockdown restrictions in England have been eased.

Boris Johnson
Mark Drakeford would have liked more communication with Boris Johnson’s Government (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“When we had had the last Cobra meeting, I felt there was a commitment there that we would continue to have these discussions on a more regular and predictable basis,” Mr Drakeford said.

“It is a disappointment to me that this rhythm has not been established and the reason I am disappointed is simply because I am committed to a four-nation approach.”

He also said the UK needed to “update the way it operates” following 20 years of devolution.

“I have long argued that we ought to have an entrenched system that we can all see and understand and makes the UK work effectively together,” he said.

“I want the UK to be a success, that is my aim, and I think a devolved UK will succeed better if we make our constitution catch up with the realities on the ground.

“In that way we can all make our contribution, we can all benefit from the UK that remains united and remains successful.”

But the UK Government later claimed there had been “meetings” with Welsh Government officials this week relating to the response to Covid-19, which a source telling the PA news agency also included a phone call between a Welsh Government minister and the UK Government’s Wales Office.

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