Minister accuses Nicola Sturgeon of inflaming tensions at English-Scottish border

James Morris
·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·2 mins read
Nicola Sturgeon (Russell Cheyne/pool/AFP via Getty Images)
Nicola Sturgeon (Russell Cheyne/pool/AFP via Getty Images)
  • New Scotland secretary suggests Nicola Sturgeon’s inaccurate use of coronavirus stats helped drive anti-English protests at Scottish border

  • Alister Jack says Sturgeon’s claim that virus was five times more prevalent in England led to “bad feeling”

  • However, he fails to mention Sturgeon spoke out against border protests

  • Visit the Yahoo homepage for more stories

A minister has accused Nicola Sturgeon of inflaming tensions at the English-Scottish border.

Scotland secretary Alister Jack suggested the first minister’s inaccurate claim that COVID-19 was five times more prevalent in England than Scotland led to “bad feeling” which drove anti-English protests at the border this summer.

Jack, however, didn’t mention the fact Sturgeon spoke out against the protests and urged people not to take part.

Speaking at the Scottish affairs committee on Thursday, he told MPs: “I thought it was disgraceful that on many occasions over the summer when the first minister was, I think, not helping the situation at the border with people standing with banners… saying the English weren’t welcome.

Scotland secretary Alister Jack (NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Scotland secretary Alister Jack (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“The idea was the virus was all but suppressed and gone in Scotland and the prevalence – she kept saying – was five times higher in England. That statistic was repeated many times, it was totally untrue, totally unhelpful.”

Sturgeon was eventually rebuked by the UK’s chief statistician in July for making the claim, which was based on incomplete and unpublished data.

Watch: Can the coronavirus affect the brain?

Jack continued: “It’s that sort of conduct that actually leads to bad feeling between us. We’re one United Kingdom, we’re all in this together. There’s been huge support from the UK government in terms of the furlough scheme and other things.

“That’s as it should be and Scotland pulls her weight as does Wales and Northern Ireland… but we should be in this together, supporting each other, and that sort of pointing the finger and saying ‘you’re doing a bad job and I’m doing a good job’… I find that totally unhelpful.”

There is no love lost between the Westminster and Holyrood governments, with tensions having been visible throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Sturgeon has been a vocal critic of Boris Johnson, attacking his government over “shambolic decision making”.

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