Drakeford brands claim he asked UK Gov for a lockdown as ‘distorted’
Mark Drakeford has branded a claim from a news blog that he requested that the UK Government announce a lockdown as “distorted”.
The Guido Fawkes’ site said that the First Minster had “privately demanded a complete lockdown between Christmas and New Year” during a phone call with Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove and the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon.
When asked to address the claim at a Covid press briefing today, the First Minister said he would not be drawn on the subject, but he did not deny that he had made such a request.
He did say however that the “distorted accounts” of the meeting from a UK Government source were a “gross violation” of the rules under which it was held.
Drakeford added that they were to “cause a distraction” from the “difficulties” that the UK Government is facing.
Boris Johnson’s government has been rocked by allegations of parties being held in Downing Street last Christmas during lockdown.
The Conservative Party has also been fined by the Electoral Commission for failing to accurately report a donation.
When asked by LBC radio to confirm or deny the claim that he asked the UK Government for a lockdown, Mark Drakeford said: “You’re not going to draw me into a conversation on distorted accounts of a meeting where those accounts are gross violation of the rules under which those meetings are conducted and where the motivation of whoever it was carried out that gross violation was simply to cause a distraction from the many many difficulties that the UK Government has experienced this week.
“So I’m not going to be drawn into that game. What I will say is this. Do I urge the UK Government to plan ahead? Do I urge the UK Government to take the actions that are necessary in order to meet the challenge of coronavirus? I’ve done that time after time from this platform and I’m very happy to repeat it again today.”
A UK Government source had told Guido Fawkes: “On just a limited amount of data, the knee jerk reaction from Welsh Government is to cancel everything and lock everyone away. How long can that approach continue?
“More businesses will go bust and more jobs will be lost, but it’s no surprise that Welsh Labour don’t care about that given their economic track record.”
Another lockdown by the Welsh Government would likely require the cooperation of the UK Treasury as they would be able to provide furlough money to businesses. The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has signalled that no such financial assistance would be forthcoming.