Lords criticise Johnson for announcing England-only Covid changes while backed by Union Jacks
A House of Lords committee has criticised Boris Johnson for announcing England-only Covid policy while backed by Union Jacks.
Using the flags while announcing restrictions that would not apply to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland caused “unacceptable” confusion, the Lords’ constitution committee said.
They pointed in particular to the announcement of the third lockdown where union flags featured prominently.
“This may have created the impression that the legal changes applied throughout the UK when they extended only to England,” they said.
“The UK Government has failed to make it clear when announcements only extend to England.
“This has caused unacceptable and unnecessary confusion for members of the public throughout the UK.”
They also criticised a lack of communication with the autonomous governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland over changes to the lockdown. Communication had “reduced significantly” since the start of the pandemic, they said
For instance, they weren’t consulted at the end of the first lockdown when Johnson changed guidance in England to ‘Stay Alert’.
“This change was apparently made without consulting or informing the devolved administrations,” the committee said.
The report comes after Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the UK Government met together last week in their first four-nation Covid summit following the elections last month, in order to attempt to establish regular communication.
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.
Last week 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”.