Nicola Sturgeon called Boris Johnson “a f****** clown” when he announced another national lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.
The UK Covid Inquiry heard on Thursday that the comment was made by the then-first minister in a WhatsApp exchange with her chief of staff Liz Lloyd.
Johnson announced another national lockdown on October 31, 2020, during a televised address.
Sturgeon said the address was “f****** excruciating” and that the UK communications were “awful”.
What do we know about Nicola Sturgeon’s WhatsApp messages?
- The inquiry was told last week that all of Sturgeon’s WhatsApp messages during the pandemic had been deleted
- In 2021, during a Covid-19 briefing, Sturgeon gave an assurance that correspondence – including messages – would be handed to any future inquiry
- Sturgeon said the Inquiry has messages between herself and those she regularly communicated with
- She said decisions on the pandemic were recorded formally in line with Scottish Government policy
The former first minister also told Ms Lloyd: “His utter incompetence in every sense is now offending me on behalf of politicians everywhere.”
Ms Lloyd said she was “offended” on behalf of special advisers everywhere.
Sturgeon replied: “He is a f****** clown.”
The former FM is due to appear at the inquiry later this month.
‘Public spat with a purpose’
Ms Lloyd told Sturgeon she wanted a “good old-fashioned rammy” with the UK Government so she could “think about something other than sick people” in WhatsApp messages.
She told the then-FM she had “set a timetable” for the UK Government to answer the Scottish Government on furlough as a “purely political” move in the messages between herself and the former first minister on November 1, 2020.
Sturgeon said: “Yeah, I get it. And it might be worth doing. I’ve sent a rough formulation of what I might say tomorrow.”
Ms Lloyd said the Scottish Government was “clearly not complimentary about their (the UK Government) communications handling”.
Statement re UK Covid Inquiry:— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) January 20, 2024
I do not intend to give a running commentary on the ongoing Inquiry. Instead, out of respect to all those impacted by the pandemic, I will answer questions directly and openly when I give evidence at the end of this month
However, in light of…
She said: “We had to mitigate the chaos that appeared around some of the decisions they took.”
Junior counsel to the inquiry Usman Tariq asked Ms Lloyd if the relationship between the then first minister and then prime minister had “broken down”.
She said:” That overstates what was there to break.”
She said of Johnson: “He didn’t want to be on those calls, he wasn’t well briefed, he wasn’t listening, engagement with him became slightly pointless.
“They didn’t get us anywhere. We started with the approach we should work together, in co-ordinated fashion, but a substantive discussion isn’t what we got.
“The prime minister was reading a script and would largely ignore points made.”
She said Sturgeon’s strong language showed her “frustration” towards Mr Johnson.
Ms Lloyd said she was looking for a “public spat with a purpose” in relation to the UK Government.
It comes as Ms Lloyd told the UK Covid-19 Inquiry she was one of the former first minister’s closest confidantes.
Liz Lloyd has began her evidence to the inquiry at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on Thursday.
Junior counsel to the inquiry Usman Tariq asked Ms Lloyd if they had a “particularly close” relationship.
Ms Lloyd said: “Certainly, yes.”
Mr Tariq asked: “Is it fair to say you were one of her closest confidantes?”
Ms Lloyd answered: “Yes, I would say so.”
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