Politics

Nicola Sturgeon accused of walking out of covid talks to appear on TV briefing

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of missing “pivotal” coronavirus talks with Boris Johnson to take part in her TV briefing.

The First Minister left a four nations call with the Prime Minister and the leaders of the other devolved administrations to take part in her regular coronavirus broadcast today.

With the call between the leaders coming as plans for the easing of lockdown restrictions are being unveiled, the Scottish Tories accused the First Minister of having the wrong priority.

A Conservative spokesman said: “It will raise more than a few eyebrows that Nicola Sturgeon’s priority is the BBC briefing over working together constructively with other governments.”

He added: “She missed a pivotal discussion in favour of a TV appearance where nothing was announced.

“It shows the value that the SNP leader puts on these BBC briefings in the run-up to the election in May.”

The Conservatives want the briefings to be “fronted solely by public health officials,” he said, adding that they would not “misuse the platform to make political points”.

Sturgeon explained that the call between the leaders had only been arranged on Sunday, and said she had had no control over the timing of it.

And she said she had taken part in the four nations’ discussions “for as long as I could, consistent with my regular commitments”.

She stated: “I do this briefing every day. I wasn’t in charge of the timing (of the call). We pointed out I do this briefing when a call was scheduled for 11.45.”

The First Minister said she was “represented on the call by officials when I am not there” and added: “It wasn’t a discussion, as I understand it, on what we are all doing. It was a report on what the Prime Minister was about to announce.”

She added: “People will criticise me for whatever I do in relation to the UK Government, so I am just going to do what I think is right and what discharges my responsibilities to the best of my ability.”

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