Number 10 sources say it would be “naive” to believe Nicola Sturgeon is “not considering the lens” of dragging Scotland out of the UK when she tackles the coronavirus crisis in her nation. They accused Ms Sturgeon of spreading mixed messages and promoting a Nationalist agenda.
The remarks come amid claims Ms Sturgeon is trying to usurp the authority in Westminster by breaking away from the UK-wide strategy to tackle COVID-19.
UK government insiders praised Ms Sturgeon for putting aside party politics to focus on the pandemic, but one told the Scotsman: “On the substance we’ve been very aligned.
“But there’s been some difference on messaging – things like Nicola Sturgeon making the announcement on schools a few hours early show that there is politics.
“She’s a nationalist who wants to break up the United Kingdom, and it would be naive to say they’re not considering that lens when they act.”
Another added: “In terms of the big picture, the Scottish and UK governments have remained very aligned on all the big issues.”
It comes after Ms Sturgeon admitted she would break from the UK’s strategy to fight against COVID-19 “if necessary”.
She told BBC’s Andrew Marr: “I don’t have the power to close the borders. But those are conversations we want to keep having with the UK Government.
“On the question of Scotland doing things differently – not for the sake of it, we won’t. Only if the evidence and judgments tell us that is necessary.”
Ms Sturgeon has been accused of playing party politics by announcing decisions in relation to a COBRA meeting ahead of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
She has also set up a Scottish volunteer scheme instead of a UK-wide scheme and has named the UK-funded NHS hospital after a Scottish nurse instead of NHS Nightingale Glasgow.
Meanwhile, the SNP leader stunned officials in Downing Street when she released a detailed 25-page plan setting out how lockdown measures could be eased in the future.
According to the five tests, ministers must be “confident any adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections”. But this was shifted on Tuesday, The Times reports, when new guidance stated that changes must not “overwhelm the NHS”.
First Minister Ms Sturgeon has previously said if the lockdown was lifted too early in England “I would want to make sure that Scotland did what I judged was best to protect the population”.
But she stressed the decision would not be “political in any way, shape or form”.
Speaking at her daily bress briefing today, Ms Sturgeon said it is “very likely” the Scottish Government will continue lockdown measures beyond a scheduled review on Thursday.
Prime Minster Boris Johnson is due to set out a new strategy on how the lockdown will be eased following a review of the current arrangements.
Ms Sturgeon said the infection rate is still too high to make “any meaningful change”.
She revealed a total of 1,576 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, up by five from 1,571 on Sunday.
The First Minister said 12,226 people have now tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up by 169 from 12,097 the day before.
There are 99 people in intensive care with coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms and a total of 1,720 people are in hospital with the virus.
Published at Mon, 04 May 2020 12:54:00 +0000