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‘We draw nothing out of an English buffer’: Drakeford brands Hancock claims about Welsh success ‘factually untrue’

11 Jun 2021 4 minute read
Mark Drakeford on Newsnight. Image by the BBC.

The First Minister has branded Matt Hancock’s claim that Wales has been able to vaccinate at the fastest rate in the world because they could always depend on England’s stock if they ran out “factually untrue”.

Speaking on Newsnight, Mark Drakeford said that “we draw nothing out of an English buffer” and that the success of the program in Wales was down to the way it had been “organised and delivered”.

Host Kirsty Wark asked: “Matt Hancock seemed to suggest that it was a general buffer that was helping you out, rather than you doing something special here to ensure that so many people are vaccinated?”

Mark Drakeford replied: “Hm! Well, it’s simply factually untrue. We draw nothing out of an English buffer. We manage our own stocks and the fact that we have some of the best vaccination rates in the world is just because of the way the program in Wales has been organised and delivered.”

Matt Hancock made the contested claim while appearing in front of a committee of MPs yesterday to answer questions about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

He said during giving evidence that Wales could jab people faster as they didn’t have to worry about having a backup supply if they ran out, as they could simply use England’s.

But the Welsh Government rejected that, saying: “The success of our world-beating vaccine programme is due to excellent planning and the sheer hard work and dedication of the vaccine teams around Wales.

“It is wrong to suggest we are reliant on an ‘English buffer’ as we hold our own and actually deliver a smaller proportion of vaccine to our centres than other UK nations.

“We are simply more efficient in using our supply with minimal wastage to ensure people in Wales are protected from Covid as quickly as possible.”

‘Very clear’

Matt Hancock was responding to a question by Labour MP Graham Stringer yesterday who asked why “Wales, not just in the United Kingdom, but it’s comparable to any country in the world, in terms of the number of vaccinations it’s got out as a percentage”.

“And the conclusion they came to was that they had stopped holding stock and as soon as they got the vaccinations they got them into people’s arms.

“And England, Scotland and Northern Ireland don’t seem to have been doing that – is that not a solution to Greater Manchester and anywhere else that is suffering increased infections.

“That the country stops holding on, that there may be problems in the future, but getting those vaccinations into people’s arms is a good thing?”

Matt Hancock answered to say he was “grinning because I’m working out whether to give you the full answer”.

“Because I very much like my colleagues in Wales and although we’re different parties running – devolved administrations and running the UK Government – there is a very clear answer to why this happened,” he said.

“And because you asked so nicely I’m going to set it out. And then I will phone up my new Welsh opposite number afterward.

“The reason is this: That we need to ensure that whatever happens in terms of security of supply, that there is enough vaccine for people to get their second doses. So we ensure that there is enough of a buffer that we can be confident that people will get their second doses.

“Now, it’s a judgement how big that buffer needs to be. Um, our colleagues in Wales, as you say, decided to hold no such buffer, and go ahead on the presumption that supply would come through.

“But they also knew that if there was an interruption to supply that England’s buffer would be used to ensure that nobody in Wales would miss their second vaccination.

“Now that is not a – that is not a decision I could make for England, because I can’t draw on anybody else’s buffer. So I suppose what this demonstrates is the value of the UK-wide vaccination programme and the fact that we’ve taken a whole of the UK approach benefits everybody including in Wales.

“It enormously benefits everybody living in Scotland because we were able to procure on behalf of the whole United Kingdom. And I would argue that the vaccination programme demonstrates that the union saves lives. And in the case of Wales the Union has helped them to have one of the fastest vaccination programmes in the world. And I wish them every luck in the dellivery of it.”

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Philip Jones
Philip Jones
3 years ago

Strange to find myself in agreement with the repulsive Cummings but there’s no doubt Hancock is a serial liar, and slimy too.

3 years ago
Reply to  Philip Jones

He’s like a bad child who gets caught often and lies in an attempt to get off the hook. Gets away with it mostly because MSM lack the attention to detail to nail him. Also there’s a vested interest in keeping in the job, for now.

Anwen Williams
Anwen Williams
3 years ago

Yet another attempt to distract by picking a quarrel with a devolved administration. Deploy rebuttal and attack – contextualise the stirring and pursue the core issues regarding Westminster government competence and ethics and contextualise the Cummings / Johnson / Hancock vendetta. The Good Law Project and Open democracy have just secured significant legal victories upholding evidence produced regarding what can only be described as corrupt government practice. Hancock knows that Johnson’s “confidence” in him is temporary because he’ll be hung out to dry at some point hence the desperate distractions, it’s public school playground time but the real issues are… Read more »

3 years ago

Yes Mark the leaders of your “precious union” are liars. I’m surprised you haven’t noticed before. Time to bring your people into the Indy camp.

3 years ago

If there was a discrete buffer then it would have been available to all of the constituent countries and so is irrelevant.

Or is Hanksock trying to tell me that specifically England slowed their rollout just in case Wales needed more doses?

3 years ago

They just can’t bring themselves to admit that the Welsh government has managed this better than the English government.

You have to remember that the English like to think of themselves as superior to everyone else in the world in every single way. If anyone manages to do anything better than the English it must, in their minds, have been because the English rather graciously helped them and not because they simply did it better than the English.

j humphrys
j humphrys
3 years ago
Reply to  Bruce

Some are wise and some otherwise, same as in Cymru. As for the Tories, they have sunk very low indeed.

Last edited 3 years ago by j humphrys

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