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First Minister: Working with UK Government an ‘utterly shambolic’ and ‘impossible’ experience

03 Jul 2020 4 minute read
Mark Drakeford the First Minister of Wales. Picture by the Welsh Government

Working with the UK Government on the subject on air bridges with other nations has been an “utterly shambolic” and “impossible” experience, the First Minister said.

Mark Drakeford said quarantine rules for air passengers was another example of the UK Government announcing something first and then working out how to implement it.

He said his intention was to put the measures announced by the UK Government into practice in Wales unless there was evidence that they harmed the health of the nation.

“Day after day we have awaited a sensible answer from UK Government about these changes,” he said.

“I just have to say it’s been an utterly shambolic and impossible experience. As I stand before you now I still have no idea what they will finally publish.

“It has been an experience of dealing with a government that appears incapable of making up its own mind let alone communicating with devolved administrations.

“Not once have they been able to come up with a decision they can explain to us.

“My intention is to take those regulations to Senedd and implement them in Wales unless it is something that will create health problems here in Wales.”

Mark Drakeford said he had not had any direct contact with Prime Minister Boris Johnson since May.

“There have been some suggestions out of Whitehall that the devolved administrations were responsible for the holdup,” he said.

“Nothing could be further from the truth and I just wanted to put that on the record.”

He said that he did not expect the UK Government to include countries on the list that would harm the health of people in Wales.

However, he said that Wales’ Chief Medical Officer would take a view and they would pursue that with the UK Government.


‘Reduced risk’

The policy had created a row between the governments in Westminster and Holyrood after Mr Shapps yesterday tried to blame the Scottish administration for delaying its announcement.

A full list of countries which the UK Government says pose a “reduced risk” of Covid-19 will be published later today, and could feature as many as 60 nations.

The UK Government’s Department for Transport said passengers returning to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland “should ensure they follow the laws and guidance which applies there”.

People arriving in England from countries like France, Spain, Germany and Italy will not need to quarantine from July 10, they confirmed.

The quarantine rule, which sees most of those entering the UK made to self-isolate for two weeks, has only been in place since the beginning of June.

The UK Government has planned a traffic light system, which classifies countries as green, amber or red depending on the prevalence of the coronavirus there.


Drakeford’s harsh words for the UK Government echoed those by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who also described the situation as “shambolic” at her daily press conference.

Speaking this afternoon she said: “As you know, the UK Government has announced a list of countries that it intends to remove from quarantine restrictions in relation to travel to England from July 10.

“Now I explained yesterday some of the reasons why it has been really quite challenging for Scotland to come to a position on the UK’s proposals with any speed. We’ve often had limited or no notice of the UK’s proposals and that matters because some of the judgements involved here are difficult and complex.

“Just to illustrate the point about the shifting sands of the UK Government’s position – the list of countries that they were yesterday demanding the Scottish Government signed up to, and suggesting we were a barrier to getting agreement on, is not the same as the list that they have shared with us today.”

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