'I haven't spoken to any UK Minister in 3 weeks', Welsh First Minister tells LBC

19 June 2020, 11:44 | Updated: 19 June 2020, 12:04

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The First Minister of Wales has said he's not spoken to any UK Government Minister in three weeks, he' also expressed surprise there was no COBRA meeting held to review the lockdown.

Last time James spoke to the First Minister many of his listeners were surprised at how little communication happens between the Welsh Government and Downing Street, especially in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

When James asked if the situation had improved, Mr Drakeford was quick to say no. "I would say it's gone in the opposite direction," he told LBC, adding "I've had no contact with any UK Minister directly over the whole of this last three weeks."

James wanted to know what this meant, was the First Minister calling and his phone going unanswered?

"You're the First Minister of Wales, we're in a global pandemic, which obviously has swept the country," James said, asking bluntly "how hard are you trying to talk to them if that's an appropriate question?"

The First Minister said Government officials have an "enormous amount of contact," and his team are "in contact with their equivalents in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Whitehall."

Previously, the First Minister told James he was keen to create a UK-wide coronavirus approach but he needed a "reliable and regular" response from Boris Johnson's Government to do so.

Mark Drakeford the First Minister of Wales was speaking to LBC's James O'Brien
Mark Drakeford the First Minister of Wales was speaking to LBC's James O'Brien. Picture: LBC

Mr Drakeford said thought "the bulk of this process" there have been a meeting where the devolved nation's First Minister's "sat round the table together to share information, understand what one another are doing and sign off the final arrangements."

But, Wales's most senior politician said he was "genuinely surprised" that there was no meeting of the Government's COBRA emergency committee at the end of the last three week coronavirus lockdown review period.

"Because that's the way it had been happening."

Mr Drakeford reiterated "three weeks has now gone by without any contact at all."

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The First Minister said he had "lost count" of the number of times he has said regular meetings should be happening between the leaders of the four nations of the UK.

He said this would help them "make better decisions," but warned, "that can't happen if the UK Government is absent in action."

Mr Drakeford revealed to LBC he will be meeting with Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove later on Friday, which he hopes will "reset" things and lead to a "predictable pattern of engagement."

The First Minister was speaking to James after The UK's chief medical officers announced they Covid-19 alert level was being lowered.

They said in a statement: "The Joint Biosecurity Centre has recommended that the Covid-19 alert level should move from Level 4 (A Covid-19 epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially) to Level 3 (A Covid-19 epidemic is in general circulation).

"The CMOs for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have reviewed the evidence and agree with this recommendation to move to Level 3 across the UK.

"There has been a steady decrease in cases we have seen in all four nations, and this continues.

"It does not mean that the pandemic is over. The virus is still in general circulation, and localised outbreaks are likely to occur.

"We have made progress against the virus thanks to the efforts of the public and we need the public to continue to follow the guidelines carefully to ensure this progress continues."