Nicola Sturgeon branded Boris Johnson a 'f***ing clown' and 'utterly incompetent' over Covid lockdowns, inquiry hears

25 January 2024, 15:00

Sturgeon labelled Johnson "a f***king clown"
Sturgeon labelled Johnson "a f***king clown". Picture: Alamy/Covid inquiry

By Emma Soteriou

Nicola Sturgeon branded Boris Johnson a "f***ing clown" in a series of messages during his announcement of a second national lockdown for England, the Covid inquiry has heard.

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WhatsApp messages between the former first minister and then chief of staff Liz Lloyd also showed Ms Sturgeon saying the Scottish Government did "not get nearly enough credit for how much better than them we are".

The messages - from October 31, 2020 - were released as part of Ms Lloyd's evidence during the Covid inquiry on Thursday.

Ms Sturgeon blasted Mr Johnson for his "utter incompetence", saying it was "offending me on behalf of politicians everywhere".

Meanwhile, Ms Lloyd said he had used "15 minutes between the rugby and Strictly to lock the country up".

"Let us never do this like this," she said.

Read more: Nicola Sturgeon says Covid inquiry has copies of messages after hearing heard pandemic texts were 'all deleted'

Read more: Nicola Sturgeon denies upstaging Humza Yousaf at SNP conference

Sturgeon's WhatsApp messages
Sturgeon's WhatsApp messages. Picture: Covid inquiry

Ms Sturgeon went on to say the former PM's address to the nation was "f****** excruciating" and that the UK Government's communications were "awful".

Ms Lloyd said she was "offended" on behalf of special advisers everywhere.

"He is a f****** clown," Ms Sturgeon replied.

When asked if the exchange showed there was a "perception amongst Nicola Sturgeon and the wider Scottish Government that it was doing so much better than the UK Government in the pandemic response around this time", Ms Lloyd said the messages related "specifically to the communications aspect of the response".

"That is sometimes dismissed but communications is very important in a public health situation, people need to know what to do and why and to understand it and to trust in it," she said.

She claimed that day had been "quite shambolic in the UK Government", with it reflecting "the sort of chaos that appeared around some of the decisions they took".

"We were clearly not very complimentary about their communications handling that day," Ms Lloyd said.

Ms Lloyd was the first person involved in the Scottish Government's handling of the Covid pandemic to provide WhatsApp messages to the UK inquiry voluntarily.

She handed over the messages in July 2023 and Ms Sturgeon gave the inquiry copies of the same messages in November.

Ms Lloyd said when she received a request for messages, she had told her former boss she would be submitting them to the inquiry.

It comes after Ms Sturgeon faced criticism following revelations she had deleted messages from during the pandemic.

Ms Sturgeon said despite messages having "not been retained" on her own device, she was still able to obtain copies to submit to the inquiry.

She previously stressed she never used informal messaging - such as WhatsApp - to make decisions during the pandemic.