The Welsh prime minister accused the Boris Johnson government of trying to divert attention from the controversy over a Christmas party in Downing Street last year by leaking a “distorted” account of his meeting with Michael Gove.
On the day he announced the latest measures in Wales to try to stop the spread of the Omicron strain of the coronavirus, Mark Drakeford responded to claims made on Thursday that he had been pushing for a “total Christmas lockdown.” You can read what he said during Friday’s press conference here.
Drakeford accused the leaker of those claims of trying to distract from the controversy over a Downing Street Christmas party last year.
He and the other prime ministers of Scotland and Northern Ireland met with Michael Gove on Wednesday evening and were scheduled to meet again on Friday.
read more : Principals are discussing early closure of schools for Christmas
It is understood that Gove and the Prime Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland discussed how the UK would deal with the spread of the Omicron variant in the coming weeks.
Guido Fawkes’ website claimed that the Prime Minister privately demanded a full shutdown between Christmas and New Years during the call, something the Welsh Government vehemently denied, saying it had no plans to make any significant changes to the regulations.
Drakeford said on Friday those accounts were “a serious violation of the rules” under which such gatherings were held and suggested that the leak had been a tactic to alleviate problems at Issue 10, especially its Christmas party on Thursday. last year. .
Learn about coronavirus cases in your area:
He said: “The motivation of whoever committed that serious violation was simply to cause a distraction from the many, many difficulties that the UK government has experienced this week.”
He added that he made no secret of pressuring the UK government to plan ahead and act early “again and again” and was “very happy” to repeat it today.
When asked yesterday if the Government of Wales was considering implementing stricter coronavirus restrictions starting next Friday, similar to those that were in effect when Wales was at alert level three, a spokesperson reiterated: “We do not anticipate making any significant changes. to the regulations existing at the time. “
Mr. Drakeford elaborated on this during his briefing on Friday, saying: “Planning what could happen does not mean that it will happen. It just means that as long as you have the opportunity to do so, you should be thinking and preparing.” That’s “just common sense,” he added, given everything we’re learning about the Omicron variant.
… and Wales Matters brings the best of WalesOnline’s coverage of politics, health, education, current affairs and local democracy right to your inbox.
Now more than ever this type of journalism matters and we want you to be able to access it all in one place with just one click. It is completely free and you can unsubscribe at any time.
To subscribe, click here, enter your email address and follow the simple instructions.
He said that into the next week, the Delta variant remained the dominant strain of coronavirus keeping infection rates high in Wales. If Omicron was out of the picture, then the road to Christmas and the New Year would be “reasonably straightforward,” he added.
But “a lot could change” in the coming days due to the uncertainties surrounding Omicron, he added. That is why the three week review period that we have become accustomed to is now changing to weekly.
Drakeford said: ‘We may be about a week behind what is happening in other parts of England and Scotland and that may give us a little more time here in Wales to learn and act. But because of the speed at which things can “.
Mr. Drakeford also took the opportunity to highlight how next week was the last week of the Senedd, although he could be remembered for any important decisions needed. He noted how the Senedd continued to meet last year, while Westminster did not.
Faced with Scotland urging people to cancel the Christmas holidays due to the increase in the number of the Omicron variant, Drakeford said the Welsh government council remains clear: “We must approach Christmas by doing all the things that we know that can help protect us and other people from the virus, “he said.
To receive the latest coronavirus news directly to your email inbox, sign up for our free Covid newsletter by clicking here