UK Government ‘fear’ adding fuel to Welsh independence calls over Covid-19

The Senedd left and Westminster right. Picture by on the left by the Senedd (CC BY 2.0).

The UK Government fear adding fuel to the Welsh independence movement if they continue to refuse Welsh Government requests to bar people from high Covid-19 areas from crossing into Wales.

The Spectator magazine quotes a government source saying that there is “concern about what continuing to reject this request might mean”.

There is “real fear about what such a move would do to the nationalist movement in Wales and Scotland,” the source says.

The Welsh Government announced on Monday that they were considering using their powers to stop travel from parts of England with a high number of Covid-19 to cases to Wales.

According to the Spectator article, the UK Government is torn between attempting to impose a whole-UK approach and the reality that localised Covid-19 outbreaks demand that different regions and nations be treated differently.

 

‘Considering’

Speaking on Monday, Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething said that he did not watch to take a “whole nation” approach and stop anyone from England travelling to Wales.

However, he said that after Boris Johnson rebuffed First Minister Mark Drakeford’s appeal to stop people from locked-down areas of England coming to Wales, they were “actively considering” the options.

Vaughan Gething said that he had met with Mark Drakeford that morning to discuss how it could be done.

“If people from areas with a high instance of coronavirus such as Liverpool come to areas with low levels and mix in the same pubs there is a risk of transmission,” he said.

However, he said there was “no good reason” to prevent someone from a low incidence area such as Devon travelling to Pembrokeshire.

‘Prevent’

Boris Johnson had earlier rejected a call by First Minister Mark Drakeford to ban people travelling from Covid-19 hotspots in England to Wales.

“We are all one country, people should exercise their common sense,” Boris Johnson said. “They should follow the guidance. And that’s what we’re going to do.”

First Minister Mark Drakeford wrote to the prime minister last Monday urging him to put in place similar stay-local rules for English lockdown areas.

“As we act to prevent people who live in hotspots in Wales from travelling to England, and taking the risk of the virus with them, so the Prime Minister in his capacity as the Prime Minister of England in this case ought to do the same to prevent people from English hotspots from travelling elsewhere in England, to Wales, or other parts of the United Kingdom, because of the risk that that undoubtedly poses,” Mark Drakeford said.

Arfon MP Liz Saville Roberts also called in the House of Commons for the Prime Minister to act to stop those under restrictions in England from travelling to Wales.

She raised concerns that residents in areas with high levels of Covid-19 transmission were travelling to parts of Wales with much lower rates, potentially spreading the virus.

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