Mark Drakeford criticises UK govt's 'confrontational' approach
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In a series of incendiary remarks, the SNP’s former Westminster leader Angus Robertson and Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford attacked the Prime Minister’s conduct in office. They accused him of being “amateur” in leadership, and “aggressively unilateral” in his approach to devolution.
The remarks were the latest sign of the deterioration of the relationship between the four nations of the UK.
Hitting back this afternoon, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman defended Mr Johnson’s efforts to strengthen the Union.
The No10 official said: “He’s always fully supported working with the devolved administrations.
“He obviously as minister for the Union and consistently makes out the case for a strong United Kingdom.
“He sets out we are at our best when we can work together towards common goals as we’ve done during the pandemic and of course during the vaccination rollout.”
Tensions between Downing Street and the devolved administrations have heightened since the Brexit vote in 2016.
Leaders for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have accused Westminster of shutting them out of decision making in areas that have a significant impact on them.
The pandemic caused even further strains with each of the four devolved nations opting for slightly different coronavirus strategies.
Wales and Scotland have accused Mr Johnson of being too quick to ease lockdown restrictions in the past, warning his decisions are responsible for an increase in cases in their home nations.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson has claimed the UK’s vaccination programme, organised centrally by Whitehall, is proof of the benefits of the UK.
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Giving evidence to the Lords constitution committee this morning, Mr Drakeford described the Prime Minister as “hostile and confrontational”.
“With the current UK Government, we face for the first time in the history of devolution, a Government that is instinctively hostile to devolution,” he said.
“The actions of Boris Johnson’s Government all too often bear the hallmark of that view.
“A confrontational approach, an approach of muscular unionism, aggressively unilateral in the way that it goes about things.
“That is different to any previous Government that we have worked with.”
Yesterday, Mr Robertson, the SNP’s Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, similarly accused Mr Johnson of failing to properly engage with the devolved administrations.
Talking about No10’s attempts to coordinate meetings with the devolved leaders, he said: “The experience on how this works sometimes is literally so amateur you can hardly believe it.
“Being bounced into meetings which there’s not been any consultation about dates, described as ‘summits’, documentation for key top-level meetings only being shared the evening before they take place, being invited to attend meetings but then being told you’re not able to speak. I could go on.”
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