Drakeford and Sturgeon told Johnson plea to work together ‘not helped’ by power grab
Mark Drakeford and Nicola Sturgeon told Boris Johnson that a power grab of devolved powers wasn’t helpful if the Prime Minister wanted them to work together on the Covid-19 recovery, according to the Scottish First Minister.
Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the UK Government met together today in their first four-nation Covid summit following the elections last month.
Both Wales and Scotland have been critical of the Internal Market Act, passed in December, which took away powers that had previously been devolved.
They had also taken issue with the announcement that the UK Government’s replacement for EU funding would bypass the devolved governments and would be distributed directly by Whitehall to councils and other local bodies.
According to Nicola Sturgeon, both she and Mark Drakeford made their unhappiness clear once more.
“It was a frank discussion, both I and the First Minister of Wales made clear that if we’re to have good discussions about working together where we can, then that’s not helped by the power grab and the UK Government trying to muscle in on devolved spending,” she said.
She added that “nothing substantial” had been agreed at today’s summit and that the “proof of the pudding” would be “whether it has an impact, whether it changes any of the decisions of the UK Government”.
Following the meeting, Boris Johnson said he wanted “regular engagement” with Wales and Scotland from now on. The Prime Minister however conceded that there were “divergent views” of the UK’s constitutional future and that the governments “will not always agree” but that he hoped they could work together to ensure a Covid recovery.
The PM “emphasised the importance of establishing a structured and regular forum for ongoing engagement between the UK Government and the devolved administrations”.
It comes after First Minister Mark Drakeford has been critical of a lack of a “regular and reliable rhythm” of meetings between him and the Prime Minister. He was also broadcast calling Boris Johnson “awful” after a meeting in December of last year.
Today however he struck a more positive tone saying that the meeting had been “the start of a proper engagement process between the four nations of the UK” but that “the real test will now be on how future decisions are made on matters that affect us all”.