Covid-19: Nicola Sturgeon rejects Newsnight lockdown framing

THE First Minister has hit out at BBC Newsnight’s framing of the coronavirus lockdown differences between Scotland and England, reminding people that only England has abandoned its Stay at Home message.

On Sunday the Prime Minister revealed some lockdown easing in England and announced the Stay at Home messaging was to be removed and replaced by a “Stay Alert” slogan – something Nicola Sturgeon has described as vague and imprecise, and urged the UK Government not to implement it in Scotland.

Last night the BBC’s Newsnight programme’s main report focused on one question: “Is Scotland’s clear message to Stay at Home a trajectory with constitutional implications?”

Sturgeon hit back at the notion on Twitter. She responded: “It’s got nothing to do with the constitution…it’s about protecting people from a dangerous virus. And as a matter of fact, the ‘stay at home’ message remains in place in 3 of the 4 UK nations – Scotland, Wales and NI.”

At the beginning of the programme, presenter Kirsty Wark says: “The NHS and care workers are working in every corner of the United Kingdom to tackle the coronavirus. It’s a disease that knows no borders. But quite unexpectedly Covid-19 is having the effect of recasting the constitutional debate.

“When Boris Johnson changed the message from Stay at Home to Stay Alert the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, said it sounded vague and imprecise. A view echoed today by Keir Starmer. She went on to call on the Prime Minister to refrain from delivering that message in Scotland.

“Having temporarily put the drive for independence to one side has Nicola Sturgeon by her performance combatting the virus reinforced the notion that Scotland is a different country.”

READ MORE: Philippa Whitford slams ‘bizarre’ lockdown row on Newsnight

Lewis Goodall’s report then showed all three of the devolved leaders reinforcing the Stay at Home message, but the programme mainly focused on Scotland and England’s divergence.

Later in the episode, the SNP’s shadow health secretary Philippa Whitford questioned the framing of the discussion too.

She said:  “I know that we’re discussing England vs Scotland here for some bizarre reason when actually all three devolved countries stuck with what had been agreed in the four-nation plan – it’s the Prime Minister that changed, it’s the Prime Minister that moved out of step.”

She went on to criticise the Prime Minister’s decision to send some people back to work in England without taking further steps to control the virus such as an effective test, trace, isolate strategy.

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