Every day the UK Government holds a briefing on the latest situation with the coronavirus pandemic, but how it applies to Wales isn’t always as clear.

Many have been left confused as to what announcements made by ministers affect the whole of the UK, or just England.

Concerns have been raised by our readers when UK Government ministers make pledges on devolved issues like testing, schools or volunteering that do not apply in Wales, yet this is not always made clear during the press conferences.

WalesOnline challenged Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on this issue at the UK Government’s 5pm briefing on Tuesday.

Political Editor Will Hayward asked Mr Raab via video link whether he would “make the distinction as to what issues applied to just England in the future”.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab at today’s media briefing in Downing Street, London
(Image: PA)

A second question asked by our reporter covered whether Welsh data was taken into consideration during key decision-making relating to lockdown.

Some people in Wales seem to feel that the responses provided by the Foreign Secretary and Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Dame Angela McLean, who joined him for the briefing, fell short of a thorough answer.

Read the full transcript below:

Will Hayward: “Watching these press conferences for the past six weeks has been very confusing for many people in Wales. Some of the language you use makes it very unclear if what is said applies to them because of devolution. Clearly, foreign affairs such as repatriating people from abroad does apply. However, commonly mentioned issues around schools, local government, support for vulnerable people, health care and even the rules of lockdown itself do not actually apply to people in Wales.

“Do you concede that the government could have been clearer up until now and will you and your ministerial colleagues commit to making the distinction as to what issues apply just to England in the future?”

Dominic Raab: “Well Will, all I’d say is that in the PM’s absence I’ve chaired two of the COBRAs and I’ve been in a number of others. We’ve had, I’ve got to say, good cooperation with all the devolved administrations including with the First Minister in Wales.

“If you look in practice at the social distancing measures, and I talked a bit earlier in this press conference about the level of compliance, it has been remarkably consistent across all of the nations, so we’ve actually been pretty much in lock-step all the way.

“I think the right thing to do is to proceed on a consistent basis, respecting the constitutional settlement, of course, and that’s what we’ve done so far and that’s one of the reasons we’ve been so effective.

“So I think we can pull together as one united kingdom and see ourselves sustainably through this crisis.”

Will Hayward: “The point I was making was as much about the language in these press conferences for people in Wales who naturally might not be that well versed in every minor minutiae around devolution.

“The First Minister of Wales has stated his desire for Wales and England to come out of lockdown together in order to make the message simple.

“How is Wales able to input into the announcements about lockdown that we’re expecting this weekend and next week? And, just to Professor McClean if I may, does SAGE take into account Welsh data and the impact on Wales when offering advice to NHS England and has there been any marked differences between Wales and England?”

Professor Dame Angela McLean

Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Dame Angela McLean, was also answering questions today
(Image: PA)

Dominic Raab: “So, just in terms of the formal structures, it’s really important that we do try and make sure that there’s early and consistent and continued cooperation and consultation. We do that through the Welsh Office, Michael Gove and the Cabinet Office are doing it and those COBRA meetings that I discussed which bring all four nations of the United Kingdom together.

“And actually, we’re flexible, we’re pragmatic, we’re not insisting on form over substance but actually if you look at the substance I’m going to come back to the consistent record of compliance with the social distancing measures.

“We’ve done a pretty good job of working together so I think the key thing is that there is the political will on all sides to continue that and I hope and I’m confident that there will be.”

Professor Dame Angela McLean: “So, on the science we worked very hard to include all four nations. Sometimes there are data streams that we only have for England at the moment but we do try to make it clear to our colleagues why we think they’re incredibly useful and, therefore, why it would be fantastic if we could have them from other countries.

“On SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies), yes we do think about Wales, I promise you.”

We will be bringing you live updates from all the latest coronavirus briefings in Wales and England as they happen every day, which you can follow here.


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