The Speaker
Wednesday, 17 July 2024 – 19:29

“This is devolution in action” – Welsh FM Mark Drakeford says people in Wales support ‘cautious’ approach to tackling Coronavirus

The First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford has said the rest of the UK is ‘waking up to devolution’. 

In a tweet and accompanying video on Thursday evening, the First Minister said his government was taking a ‘cautious approach’ to lift lockdown measures and said that people in Wales ‘support’ the way in which the lockdown is being lifted.

Last Friday, the First Minister unveiled a traffic light roadmap setting out how Wales could exit the lockdown. Unlike the government in London, the Welsh Government has declined to set out dates in its roadmap, saying it can only move forward when the scientific advice says it is safe to do so.

At the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, the four-nations of the UK appeared to be fairly united in their approach to tackling the virus. However, as time has gone on, the devolved nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have seemingly moved more in their own directions to respond to the pandemic.

On Thursday evening, the First Minister said, in what could be interpreted as a swipe at the UK Government, that people in Wales “do not look enviously on the way in which these things are being conducted across our border.” Mr Drakeford said in a video;

“It is certainly true that people outside Wales and in London appear to have woken up from a 20-year sleep on the devolution agenda

I think people’s views in Wales are really clear. People in Wales support the careful, cautious way in which we are exercising the lift out of lockdown.

They would rather be here with a government that puts their health, their well-being, at the very front of what we are doing, and they do not look enviously on the way in which these things are being conducted across our border.”

Mr Drakeford has repeatedly talked about his support for a four-nation approach to tackling the Coronavirus but has spoken out about poor communications between Downing Street and the devolved administrations. Speaking last Friday, Mr Drakeford said;

“The UK needs to update the way it operates to take account of 20 years of devolution, and I have long argued not for the sort of ad-hoc arrangements we have now where we get called together with very short notice, often to discuss things of major importance. We ought to have an entrenched system that we all can see and we all understand that makes the United Kingdom work effectively together because I want the United Kingdom to be a success, that is my aim and I think a devolved United Kingdom will succeed better if we make our constitution catch up with the realities on the ground – we have reliable, regular, easy to see, easy to understand ways of talking to one another and in that way, we can all make our contribution, we can all benefit from a United Kingdom that remains united and remains successful”.

Mr Drakeford’s latest video tweet could indicate that communications between Downing Street and Wales haven’t been improving. The leaders of the UK’s devolved administrations have become increasingly critical of the UK Government’s response recently, including by rejecting the new ‘Stay Alert, Control The Virus, Save Lives’ message.

Wales has eased some lockdown measures, such as allowing the reopening of garden centres, however, strict lockdown measures remain, and the maximum fine for breaching them has now increased from £120 to £1,920. 

The key message in Wales remains to ‘Stay at Home’.


Photo Credit: Welsh Government

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