Pandemic has thrown spotlight on Welsh-UK relations, Mark Drakeford says

Boris Johnson’s refusal to agree to restrict travel for people living in UK coronavirus hotspots showed the Conservative Party’s “tin ear” to Wales, the Welsh First Minister has said.

Mark Drakeford, the leader of Welsh Labour, said issues arising from the Covid-19 pandemic had also “thrown a spotlight” onto the relationship between the Welsh and UK governments.

Speaking about his government’s response to the pandemic at the Welsh Labour Together online event on Thursday, Mr Drakeford said: “It’s thrown a spotlight onto our relationship with the UK Government, which as I’ve said many times, have not been what they need to be.

“There has been no regular, reliable rhythm, and when we have had it, it has not always been satisfactory.

“This week you will have seen that we’ve had quite a falling out with the Prime Minister over his refusal to act to protect low incidence areas of coronavirus from visitors from high incidence areas.

“We’ve had to use our own powers to fill that gap. I think that has been very strongly supported by people in Wales, and it just demonstrates the tin ear the Tories have for what matters most to people who live in Wales.”

HEALTH Coronavirus Wales
HEALTH Coronavirus Wales

Mr Drakeford said he also believed the votes cast against his local lockdown restrictions by Welsh Conservative’s at the Welsh Parliament was “irresponsible and unforgiveable”.

He also expressed his belief that the UK Government’s controversial Internal Market Bill would be blocked in the House of Lords, but that Mr Johnson’s pursuit of the legislation threatened the break up of the union.

“The current UK Prime Minister is a real threat to the United Kingdom. And the bill he is promoting is in the vanguard of that threat,” he said.

Mr Drakeford had kinder words for UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, saying he had found it “very easy” to build a relationship with him.