Mark Drakeford criticises Boris Johnson for lack of meetings with devolved leaders

26 September 2020, 11:31

The Welsh First Minister has criticised the Prime Minister for not having regular enough meetings with the devolved government leaders during the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to LBC’s Matt Frei, Mark Drakeford said before this week, he had only had “one, relatively brief” conversation with the Prime Minister since May 28 – something he says “isn’t good enough.”

The First Minister said this could be because Boris Johnson is “incredibly busy,” but also said there are “some voices in the Conservative government who having found out that devolution exists after 20 years, find they don’t much like it.”

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Wales has introduced several local lockdowns over the past few weeks as the coronavirus crisis worsens in the south of the country.

Mr Drakeford said: “I had a conversation with the Prime Minister myself on Monday of this week and we had a Cobra meeting on Tuesday.

File photo: First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford
File photo: First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford. Picture: Getty

“My view has always been those conversations are always useful and they always lead to better informed decisions by us all.

“My frustration has been that those conversations have not been regular enough, not been reliable enough.

“The Prime Minister said on Tuesday that Cobra would be reinstated as a more regular feature of the way the four nations of the United Kingdom get round the table together.

“I do hope that is the case.

“It was a very useful meeting on Tuesday, but what I don’t want are one off, sporadic, last-minute meetings called in a crisis and then weeks of silence.

“This isn’t the way we should get through this the best.”

Mr Drakeford said it is “important” that things change going forward and that more meetings take place between the devolved nations.

He added: “Taking a generous view, the Prime Minister is incredibly busy, he’s got a big range of responsibilities and we’re all reacting to very quickly changing circumstances.

“There are some practical things, and that’s why I have been trying to argue getting these meetings in the diary in advance.

“If they’re not needed, they can always be cancelled, but if you don’t have them there they become very difficult to arrange, so that’s one sort of explanation.

“I think there’s also another explanation, which is that there are some voices in the Conservative government who having found out that devolution exists after 20 years, find they don’t much like it, and think it would be better if we returned 20 years and all the decisions were made in Whitehall and would rather not be spending their time talking to us very much.”

Cardiff will enter a local lockdown from 6pm on Sunday, but the First Minister has urged people to “spend this weekend acting like the restrictions are already in place.”

He said: “The situation in Wales continues to be mixed – in the south and south east of Wales things are difficult and more areas will find themselves subject to local restrictions.

“Further west and further north, things remain much better and our aim of course is to confine the outbreaks as much as we can so those parts of Wales can remain without those restrictions that other people are having to live with.”