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Welsh Government ministers ‘did not understand’ own Covid rules – Simon Hart

07 Mar 2024 2 minute read
Simon Hart in the House of Commons

Welsh Government ministers did not know their own rules during the pandemic, a hearing of the UK Covid inquiry has heard.

Simon Hart, the former Welsh secretary, has criticised the Government in Wales for diverging from Parliament’s coronavirus protection measures during the pandemic.

Mr Hart, who is now the Conservative government’s chief whip, told the UK Covid-19 Inquiry on Thursday that WhatsApp messages collected by the inquiry suggest that members of the Welsh Government were unsure of their own rules.

He said: “I thought it was quite revealing the lengthy exchange of WhatsApp messages between Welsh ministers, members of Mark Drakeford’s own cabinet, were expressing a surprising amount of confusion themselves about what they were able to do.

“Mark (Drakeford’s) own team were WhatsApping each other saying ‘I don’t actually fully understand the rules, can anybody tell me if I can go from here to there, not sure if it’s a work event or not, or if I’m coming do I have to wear a mask?’

“All of that is laid out in some detail in their WhatsApp exchanges and that’s not a criticism, it’s an observation.”

Confusion

He argued the divergence in rules led to “significant confusion” and that the Welsh Government chose different rules for the sake of it.

“More in sadness than in anger, I do believe that to be the case,” he said.

“It was difficult to see any evidence which suggested that the outcomes were going to be any different as a result of some of the divergent policies which were emerging.”

Mr Hart argued that if a similar event should occur in the future it should be handled by the UK Government rather than the devolved administrations.

Problems

“We had four different administrations all with some slightly different ideas about how to deal with this, but a population which was very fluid, this was going to lead to problems,” he said.

“I found it increasingly disturbing that we were looking at the problem through the lens of a political boundary, geographical boundary, between England and Wales, rather than looking at the population and the way the population and the economy crosses the border.”


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Llyn
Llyn
1 month ago

And meanwhile in London his boss at the time Boris Johnson and the Chancellor of the Exchequer one Rishi Sunak were breaking their own lockdown rules for which they were fined. If Mr Hart is saying that the members of the UK Gov did know all their rules (as opposed to the Welsh Government) then he is clearly saying they deliberately and knowingly broke those rules and that’s not what they told the police.

Alan Jones
Alan Jones
1 month ago

If you’d bothered to listen to other points put forward at the enquiry Simon you’d see that London couldn’t be bothered talking to the devolved nations from day one of the pandemic warnings being put to yourself & others in the cabinet. This was partly due to massive incompetence plus confusion along with a large dose of indifference especially from your boss at the time De Feffle. There’s so much of Mark Drakefords policies that can be debated & disagreed on in his time as first minister but there’s no doubt he was the right man in the right place… Read more »

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago

This from the man, who had no idea what the Barnett formula was, or how it worked, when he was in office.

Paul ap Gareth
Paul ap Gareth
1 month ago

Welsh ministers confused about their own rules and checking with others to make sure they remained within the rules.
British ministers throwing parties in complete disregard for the rules.

Which is worse?

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
1 month ago

We in Wales take NO CRITICISM OF A QUISLING TO AN ENGLISH NATIONALIST PARTY TORY TEA BOY

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

He does have a point, No10 was on the ball so as a minister he would know what a plan looked like…… ah wait a minute

Why vote
Why vote
1 month ago

So they make up rules and then follow said rules not knowing what they are, it does make sence, politicians.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

You’ve got to laugh at Simon “says” Hart. Yes, we can criticise the Welsh Government for not understanding their own Covid rules to blatantly ignoring them like his gaggle of Conservative pernicious political pirates did. Who can forget the Tory government slogan at the time, and there were many, namely “Hands, Face and Space “, when in reality was UK government ministers were arrogantly and recklessly flouting their own medical advice with Partygate. In 2020 as 1000s were dying daily of Covid, and we at this point had no vaccine, Boris Johnson openly lied about following rules and that rumours… Read more »

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