Nicola Sturgeon demands input in ENGLANDs Covid rules as she attacks Boris for snub

GMB: Dr Hilary disapproves of lifting all Covid restrictions

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The Scottish First Minister criticised ministers for having discussions about Boris Johnson’s long-term plan for living with Covid in England without engaging with the devolved administrations. She said any decisions made on ending free testing in England would have a knock-on effect for Scotland.

Mr Johnson is expected to announce an end date for free lateral flow tests later today when he unveils his plan in Parliament.

The tests currently cost the Government approximately £2billion a month.

The SNP leader said on social media this morning: “The reality of UK finance flows means this decision determines the money devolved administrations (paid for by taxpayers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) have for testing.

“Expressed frustration to Michael Gove this morning that we still don’t know and this delay deepens that.”

Cabinet was set to meet this morning to sign off on the long-term plan for living with Covid but was delayed at the last minute amid claims of a row between Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

The Treasury is said to be eager for free tests to be scrapped as soon as next month while the Health Department wants it to continue for longer.

Ms Sturgeon said she hoped “common sense prevails” and free testing remains.

The lack of consultation has also angered the Welsh Government.

First Minister Mark Drakeford tweeted that any winding down of the testing operation would be “premature and reckless”.

“Testing has played a pivotal role in breaking chains of transmission and as a surveillance tool helping us detect and respond to emerging variants,” he added.

“It’s essential that this continues.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman rejected the accusations, saying that the Government “continue to have discussions” with the devolved administrations.

He added that No10 would “continue to update them”.

The Cabinet is still expected to meet this afternoon to sign off on the Covid plan, with a statement in the Commons expected at approximately 4.30pm.

He will then hold a press conference to outline the changes to the nation.

The Prime Minister said this morning ahead of the planned announcement: “Today will mark a moment of pride after one of the most difficult periods in our country’s history as we begin to learn to live with Covid.

“It would not be possible without the efforts of so many – the NHS who delivered the life-saving vaccine rollout at phenomenal speed, our world-leading scientists and experts, and the general public for their commitment to protecting themselves and their loved ones.

“The pandemic is not over but thanks to the incredible vaccine rollout we are now one step closer towards a return to normality and finally giving people back their freedoms while continuing to protect ourselves and others.”

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