Drakeford accuses Prime Minister of ‘ignoring the science’

Wales’s First Minister defended his earlier comments that England was the ‘global outlier’ in the fight against the Omicron variant.

Rod Minchin
Sunday 09 January 2022 12:13
Mark Drakeford is hopeful restrictions can be lifted in Wales (Ben Birchall/PA)
Mark Drakeford is hopeful restrictions can be lifted in Wales (Ben Birchall/PA)

England has been accused of “ignoring the science” in refusing to introduce coronavirus restrictions by Wales’s First Minister Mark Drakeford as he continued his war of words with the UK Government

Mr Drakeford defended his earlier comments that England was the “global outlier” in the fight against the Omicron variant.

On Friday, he had launched a blistering attack on Prime Minister Boris Johnson, accusing him of leading a Government which was “politically paralysed”.

Speaking on Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday, Mr Drakeford said: “I’m asked time after time why isn’t Wales doing the same things as England?

I think they (UK Government) have not done what the science would have told them they should do. But that’s decisions for them to answer for – I’m answerable for the decisions we take here in Wales

Mark Drakeford

“My answer was to point out that in this debate it is not Wales that is the outlier.

“Wales is following the same path of putting protections in place that is being followed by Scotland, Northern Ireland, and not just devolved governments in the UK, but governments across Europe and across the world.

“The questions as to why the UK Government has decided not to follow that course of action are for them to answer, not for me.

“I think they have not done what the science would have told them they should do.

“But that’s decisions for them to answer for – I’m answerable for the decisions we take here in Wales.”

Alert level 2 restrictions remain in Wales, including wearing face coverings indoors, groups in public places such as restaurants limited to six people, and working from home if possible.

Indoor events of more than 30 people or outdoor events for more than 50 people are not allowed.

Mark Drakeford said he hoped Wales would be over the peak of Covid-19 restrictions in the next few weeks (Gareth Fuller/PA)

On Friday there was 994 people with Covid-19 being treated in Welsh hospitals while around 40 are in critical care – the majority of whom are unvaccinated.

Mr Drakeford said that having different restrictions in both England and Wales made public health communications “more difficult”.

“When we have different messages across our border that does make it more difficult for us,” he told Sky News.

“We have faced this in the past and we go on doing as we see it as the right thing to protect lives and livelihoods here in Wales.”

He also said he was hopeful the restrictions could be lifted in Wales as he was expecting a steep decline in infections once the peak in the next couple of weeks was reached.

“As soon as we are in a position to see the peak past and the position improving, of course we will want to revert to the far more modest level of protections we had in place only a few weeks ago,” he said.

“We’re hopeful that the level of protections we currently have in place will be sufficient to mitigate the impact of Omicron to help our NHS to deal with the astonishing pressures which it’s having to deal with every day.”

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