Nicola Sturgeon and Michael Gove prepare for the COBRA meeting. Sturgeon demands more cash from Treasury to support businesses that have been affected by Covid curbs. The UK Government should follow her example and tighten restrictions

  • Michael Gove is hosting a COBRA meeting for devolved leaders.
  • Meeting as Nicola Sturgeon asks for more Covid funding
  • Yesterday, Ms Sturgeon strengthened the Covid rules of Scotland in order to combat Omicron
  • The First Minister of Omicron wants the UK to take his lead because it is spread very quickly. 

Nicola Sturgeon will hold showdown coronavirus talks with Michael Gove this afternoon as she demands more funding from the Treasury and urges the UK Government to follow her lead and toughen restrictions.  

To discuss the UK response, Gove (the Communities Secretary) will be chairing a COBRA committee meeting. 

The meeting comes one day after Ms Sturgeon announced new rules for people in Scotland to restrict their socialising to three households before and after Christmas. 

According to the Scottish First Minister, limiting contact is essential because “Omicron is rapidly spreading” and she feels that further restrictions should be implemented by the UK Government. 

Boris Johnson initiated Plan B for England last Wednesday. It requires that masks be worn indoors and that people show an NHS Covid Pass in order to get into large venues such as nightclubs. 

Downing Street repeatedly stated that there is no plan beyond Plan B.

Meanwhile, Ms. Sturgeon has been locked in an argument with the Treasury over extra funds she needs to support businesses in Scotland that are affected by her new rules. 

Nicola Sturgeon will hold showdown coronavirus talks with Michael Gove this afternoon as she demands more funding from the Treasury and urges the UK Government to follow her lead and toughen restrictions

Nicola Sturgeon and Michael Gove will have showdown coronavirus discussions today. She demands additional funding for the Treasury, and she urges the UK Government not to follow her example and tighten restrictions.

Mr Gove will chair a meeting of the COBRA committee with the leaders of the devolved administrations to discuss the UK response to the Omicron variant

The COBRA committee will meet with leaders from the devolved administrations. Mr Gove will be the chairperson.

Ms. Sturgeon posted this tweet: “Omicron spreading fast. We MUST slow it down while we speed up boosters, or weight of infections will overwhelm NHS & economy.’ 

She has told Scots that gatherings should be limited to no more than three households. 

After the Scottish Government advised workers to postpone Christmas parties, and instead to work at home whenever possible, this advice was issued.  

The Treasury announced yesterday that the UK Government will make additional funds available to the devolved administrations to ‘provide greater certainty and allow them to plan as they tackle Covid-19 during the crucial weeks ahead’.

Ms. Sturgeon, however, accused Treasury officials of using’smoke-and-mirrors’ because she claims that no new funding is being provided. 

She said: ‘While any financial support in the face of the pandemic, and the emergence of the Omicron variant, is welcome, today’s announcement from the Treasury does not appear to amount to any additional funding.

‘Instead, it merely advances money which Scotland would be due in any case from expected Barnett consequentials already budgeted for – with the stipulation that we would need to pay back anything received over and above the final Barnett amount.

“That’s no additional funding. It’s simply classic Treasury smoke-and-mirrors.

SNP leader says that the UK has not implemented tougher Covid restrictions, which means no additional funding will be available for Scotland.   

She said: ‘Because the UK Government is at this stage not proposing any further protections – a position I do not agree with – there is no funding generated to compensate businesses for any protections we think are necessary and wish to put in place.

“That’s unacceptable under current circumstances. We, the Welsh and Northern Irish governments, are pressing for a fairer approach to public health that recognizes our devolved responsibilities.

“But, for the moment, this is our situation, which means that we have to deal with a lack of financing.

Ms. Sturgeon repeatedly urged the Treasury to increase funding for Covid to Scotland and Wales. 

She sent a letter in November to Mark Drakeford (Welsh First Minister) asking for an assurance that the Treasury would finance devolved Covid business assistance schemes if additional restrictions were needed.  

After John Swinney (Scotland’s deputy first minister) said that additional coronavirus restrictions might be necessary before Christmas in order to stop the spread Omicron, today’s COBRA meeting is scheduled.

Asked if more restrictions could be put in place before Christmas, he said: ‘Potentially that could be the case, but we want to avoid that.

“We believe we did enough with the announcements made yesterday. We hope that the members of the public, businesses and others will join us in a cooperative spirit so we can make these provisions a reality.”