Drakeford responds to Johnson jibe: ‘I care what people of Wales think, not distant commentator’
Mark Drakeford has responded to a jibe by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons by saying that he doesn’t care what he thinks.
Boris Johnson described the restrictions in Wales as “baroque eccentricities” during Prime Minister’s questions on Wednesday.
Wales’ First Minister responded at today’s press conference by saying that he doubted if Boris Johnson actually knew what the restrictions in Wales were.
The First Minister responded: “I don’t think for a second that Boris Johnson is familiar with what is going on here in Wales. He was just making a political point in a political context and I don’t think we should attach much weight to that. I don’t pay much attention to what he says in the House of Commons.
“The rules we have here in Wales are clear. The evidence shows that the people of Wales still support us in doing what we’re asking them to do. I’m just happy to be in that situation.
“I place more emphasis on what the people of Wales think than some relatively distant commentator.”
Despite health being a devolved matter, a number of senior English and Welsh Conservatives at the House of Commons have taken the opportunity this week to criticise the restrictions put in place by the First Minister Mark Drakeford, which came in on Boxing Day.
The stricter rules introduced in Wales from Boxing Day mean that groups of no more than six people could meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants.
Meanwhile, outdoor events are limited to 50, while 30 people allowed indoors, leading to many sporting events being cancelled or played behind closed doors.
As well as Boris Johnson, the Welsh Secretary Simon Hart also said the Welsh Government was guilty of a “huge number of mystifying and contradictory positions”.
“It seems that it is all right for people to go to a pub but not to their office. They can watch the rugby from the clubhouse but not from the touchline. They can go to a gym but they cannot partake in an outdoor activity such as parkrun.”
MPs from England also weighed in. Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant, who said that he spent Christmas in Wales, said that he “met a number of business people in the evening who said that Mark Drakeford’s plans for covid restrictions were nothing but political posturing and that they were damaging their economy”.
Former Secretary of State for Business Andrea Leadsom also described the restrictions as “bonkers”.
“Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Welsh Government’s decision to prevent people from taking part in parkruns—not just Welsh citizens but those from the English side taking part in Welsh parkruns—has meant that those people have been significantly detrimentally affected by such a bonkers decision?” she asked.
MP Rob Roberts, who was elected as a Conservative, asked whether it would be possible for “devolution to be suspended temporarily” as a result of the Covid pandemic.