Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland stick with ‘stay home’ message

A senior Government minister has said the UK moving forward together in any easing of the lockdown is a “strong preference”, but already differences are emerging between countries.

Hours after Boris Johnson’s new “stay alert” slogan was unveiled in a newspaper report, leaders of the UK’s other three nations stated that the “stay at home” advice remains.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show: “We would like the whole of the United Kingdom to move as one, that’s our strong preference.”

But devolved governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have power to make their own decisions on a number of matters, including health.

So what has the reaction been in each of the three countries ahead of Mr Johnson’s speech on Sunday evening?

– Scotland

In a pointed tweet on Sunday morning, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the first she saw of the Prime Minister’s new slogan was in the Sunday papers.

Rejecting its use in Scotland for the moment, she tweeted: “The Sunday papers is the first I’ve seen of the PM’s new slogan.

“It is of course for him to decide what’s most appropriate for England, but given the critical point we are at in tackling the virus, #StayHomeSaveLives remains my clear message to Scotland at this stage.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman, who said the Scottish Government was not consulted on the slogan change, said she had “no idea” what “stay alert” means.

– Wales

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford described the Welsh Government’s relationship with the UK Government as one of “fits and starts”.

He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “When there is engagement, it is good, and it is helpful, and I wish there could be more of it.”

He stressed the stay-home slogan has not “gone away” in Wales, and was backed by the country’s health minister Vaughan Gething who said there had been no discussion or agreement about the Government’s new slogan with the other three nations of the UK.

Mr Gething said the Welsh Government message had not changed, with people urged to stay home and to follow social distancing rules if they do go outside.

– Northern Ireland

First Minister Arlene Foster said the region is sticking with the “stay home, save lives” message.

Speaking to BBC Northern Ireland radio on Sunday, she said: “On the whole, the message is to stay at home. We will say we are not deviating from the message at this time.”

She earlier said any changes made to the region’s lockdown measures following Mr Johnson’s announcement will be nuanced.

Her Stormont colleague Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill tweeted an image of the current messaging on Sunday morning, with the “stay at home” slogan featured.