Mark Drakefords brutal snub – ‘nobody in England had heard of him before Covid’
Mark Drakeford hits out at coronavirus restrictions in England
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The Welsh Labour leader will face members of the Senedd, the Welsh Parliament, this morning at First Minister’s Questions. The Welsh Conservatives are likely to use the weekly session to repeat demands for Mr Drakeford’s government to cut the Covid self-isolation period to five days, as has happened in England. The Tories have criticised the First Minister’s handling of the wave of infections caused by the Omicron variant of the virus, and the effects health restrictions have had on businesses.
On Monday, the Conservatives’ health spokesman Russell George said: “We’ve already seen Labour’s botched over-reaction to Omicron and how that has impacted businesses.
“By cutting the self-isolation period, they can start atoning for the damage they have done.”
The criticism of Mr Drakeford comes as Wales’ Covid case rate has dropped to 650.02 cases per 100,000 people – its lowest level since December 18.
The First Minister’s leadership through the pandemic has seen him rise in prominence outside Wales alongside the UK’s other devolved leaders such as Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon.
However, before the global health crisis, the Welsh leader was an obscure name even among Welsh people, according to Plaid Cymru’s Rhys ab Owen.
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He told Express.co.uk: “I’m sure nobody in England had heard of Mark Drakeford before Covid, he wasn’t that well-known in Wales.
“But now, some opinion polls have it that people know him more than [UK Prime Minister] Boris Johnson even, that’s never been true before in the history of devolution in Wales.”
Mr Owen is the Senedd member for South Wales Central, the region that includes the capital, Cardiff.
Although from a rival party, the politician praised Mr Drakeford’s leadership since the outbreak of Covid two years ago.
He said: “For example, when Wales went into firebreak lockdown a fortnight before England in the Autumn of 2020, the Westminster Government refused to extend furlough at that point.
“When England went into a firebreak a fortnight afterwards, furlough was extended straight away.
“So, you know they haven’t treated us well during the pandemic and quite rightly the pandemic has stoked a lot of the feelings.
“Compared to how the Welsh Government has handled it – they’ve handled it far better than the Westminster Government.
“Certainly, that’s the perception by many in Wales.”
Last week Mr Drakeford confirmed that measures to curb the spread of Omicron would “gradually” be axed over next fortnight.
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The return to ‘alert level zero’ restrictions, which began to take effect from Saturday, is focused on public events and businesses.
The number of people who can gather for an outdoor event in Wales has now risen from 50 to 500.
If the health situation continues to improve, further health restrictions will be eased from January 21, meaning the return of crowds at outdoor events.
The plans are a boost for Wales ahead of the Six Nations rugby union competition next month.
If the data allows, further measures could be lifted from January 28, including the reopening of nightclubs and scrapping the six-person limit on groups in hospitality settings.
Under the plans, a three-weekly Welsh government review of the health situation will come back from February 10.
First Minister’s Questions will be available on BBC iPlayer.
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