The UK Government must start treating the devolved governments as “equal partners”, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Following a four-nations summit on Covid recovery, the First Minister insisted that the worth of the meeting will depend on whether UK ministers takes issues raised at the meeting seriously.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, chancellor Rishi Sunak and Scottish secretary Alister Jack were amongst those to attend the virtual meeting on behalf of the UK Government.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford and Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster were also on the call, whilst Sturgeon was joined by John Swinney and Scottish finance secretary Kate Forbes.
“We are of course willing to work together on recovery from the pandemic, but the UK Government needs to listen and act on key Scottish Government concerns,” said Sturgeon.
“Because of the powers that rest in Westminster the decisions the UK Government takes have a major impact on the kind of fair recovery we are trying to build in Scotland.
“I sought assurances that there would be no return to the cruel and damaging austerity of the past and that furlough and the £20 uplift in Universal Credit will be extended.”
She continued: “The proof of the worth of this meeting depends on whether the UK Government takes these issues seriously and responds accordingly.
“This meeting also took place at a time when the UK Government is undermining devolution through the Internal Market Act and diverting funding away from the Scottish Parliament.
“This has to stop and instead the UK Government needs to start treating the Scottish Government and other devolved governments as equal partners.”
Following discussions, UK Ministers agreed that the meeting provided an “important opportunity for dialogue” between the UK Government and devolved administrations.
A statement released following the meeting said: “The Prime Minister reflected that, while there are divergent views on the question of the United Kingdom’s constitutional future and the UK Government and devolved administrations will not always agree, these differences should not prevent us from working together to ensure a strong recovery for all parts of the country.”
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