Nicola Sturgeon’s habit of ‘gazumping’ UK government announcements during Covid was ‘unhelpful and confusing’, says Matt Hancock
Nicola Sturgeon’s habit of ‘gazumping’ the UK government’s Covid policies was ‘unhelpful and confusing’, Matt Hancock said today.
Giving evidence to the official inquiry, the former health secretary gave a damning assessment of the ex-SNP leader’s behaviour.
He complained that she would ‘spin’ policies to make it look like she was ahead of Westminster, even when issues had been discussed collectively.
The Covid-19 Inquiry was shown WhatsApp messages from Mr Hancock from July 2020, regarding communications around travel from Spain and quarantine.
When told that No10 wanted to communicate the matter ‘ASAP’, Mr Hancock replied: ‘Me too. It will leak anyway – and the Scots will try to get their announcement out first.’
At the inquiry today, Mr Hancock was asked by a representative of the Scottish Covid bereaved: ‘What is the issue with the First Minister communicating that to the people of Scotland first?’
Nicola Sturgeon ‘s habit of ‘gazumping’ the UK government ‘s Covid policies was ‘unhelpful and confusing’, Matt Hancock said today (pictured, the former SNP leader holding a briefing in August 2020)
Mr Hancock said: ‘There were a number of moments when the first minister of Scotland would communicate in a way that was unhelpful and confusing to the public.
‘And sometimes, (she) would leave a meeting and begin communication of a decision, for instance, sooner than agreed.’
He added: ‘We found it much more difficult when decisions went up to first minister level, particularly with Nicola Sturgeon.
‘Because we would find that sometimes some kind of spin was put on what was essentially substantively the same decision. So it was a frustration, I’ve got to be honest about that.’
However, Mr Hancock also told the UK Covid-19 Inquiry he had a ‘constructive relationship’ with his counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and that their weekly briefings felt like ‘therapy sessions’.
Ms Sturgeon was first minister of Scotland and SNP leader from 2014 until earlier this year
Mr Hancock complained that Ms Strugeon would ‘spin’ policies to make it look like she was ahead of Westminster, even when issues had been discussed collectively
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