Downing Street blames Drakeford and Sturgeon for Covid summit delay
Number 10 Downing Street has blamed Mark Drakeford and Nicola Sturgeon for the postponement of a Covid-19 recovery summit.
The four-nation gathering was due to take place today, but it was cancelled following the publication of a joint letter from Wales and Scotland’s First Ministers warning Boris Johnson that it must be more than a “PR or box-ticking exercise”.
They also called for clarity on the agenda, saying they had only received a rough outline
The postponement has been described as “disappointing” by a spokesperson for the UK Prime Minister.
Johnson wrote to Mark Drakeford and Nicola Sturgeon after the devolved elections on 6 May inviting them to a meeting to discuss their shared challenges in tackling the Covid-19 crisis.
In the letter, he said that “people across the UK, and in particular, the people of Wales are best served when we work together”.
A spokesperson for Number 10 Downing Street told ITV Wales: “As the PM set out, we need to overcome the significant challenges of the Covid recovery with the same spirit of unity and cooperation shown during the pandemic so it is disappointing that the Scottish and Welsh governments would prefer to delay this meeting so that they have more time to prepare, especially given the scale of the challenge. But we remain committed to that spirit of cooperation.
“The Prime Minister is keen to speak to the First Ministers and the First and Deputy First Ministers of Northern Ireland about recovery. We want to do that as soon as possible but we don’t have a date set.
The spokesperson also suggested that the rescheduling was a matter for the Welsh and Scottish First Ministers: “We want to work with them to find a new date to schedule this, now that they aren’t able to do tomorrow. ”
Responding to Boris Johnson’s letter proposing the summit, Mark Drakeford and Nicola Sturgeon said they were both “deeply committed” to taking part in such a summit “and to working appropriately together on Covid Recovery”.
However, they added that they “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,” they said.
“Your office sent a very rough proposed agenda only yesterday morning and our view is that further work is needed to agree key issues for discussion and any supporting papers to be prepared.”
Mark Drakeford and Nicola Sturgeon also demanded to know “what outcomes/further process we are seeking to achieve as a result of the summit discussion”.
“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.
“We are sure that is what we all want.”