Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has blasted “shambolic” Boris Johnson for the way he has managed the air bridge plans.
Speaking during the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing, she said: “When so much is at stake as it is right now we can’t allow ourselves to be dragged along in the wake of, to be quite frank about it, another government’s shambolic decision process.”
“We want to welcome visitors again from around the world and we also want to allow our own citizens to travel.
“We also want, if possible for obvious practical reasons, to have alignment on these matters with the rest of the UK.”
She said it has been “really challenging” for Scotland to come to a position on the UK Government proposals with speed.
But she said that it is “very likely” that the Scottish Government will be able to agree the low-risk countries on the air bridge list over the next few days.
Nicola Sturgeon said it had been “really quite challenging for Scotland to come to a position” on UK Government proposals to lift quarantine restrictions on those flying into the county from other parts of the world.
She said there were “difficult and complex” decisions to be made, and added: “Just to illustrate the point (on) the shifting sands of the UK Government’s position – the list of countries that they were yesterday demanding that the Scottish Government sign up to, and suggesting we were a barrier to getting an agreement on, is not the same as the list they have shared with us today.”
She said the Scottish Government would need to analyse the proposals “properly and rationally” from both a public health perspective and a legal perspective before coming to their own decision.
She added: “So we will take time to properly and rationally consider this before hopefully very soon setting out our own decision.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps yesterday blamed the SNP leader for delaying the “air bridges” announcement.
In the Commons, Mr Shapps demanded the SNP’s “help in ensuring that air bridges can get going as quickly as possible”.
He said: “I’m very keen to get the devolved administrations, including the Scottish Government, on board so we can get this thing announced.”
He urged SNP MP Philippa Whitford to “ask the Scottish Government to join with us in ensuring we can have these air bridges in place nationwide as quickly as possible”.
First Minister Ms Sturgeon accused Mr Shapps of misrepresenting the situation, “which is disappointing but sadly not surprising”.
Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf claimed the British Government had repeatedly redrawn the list of countries under consideration.
He added: “We have sought, as far as possible, a four-nations approach to this issue, but such a policy requires meaningful consultation by the UK Government – something which has so far been lacking.”
Devolved administrations were presented on Wednesday with an updated list of countries which had “significantly changed” from previous versions.
“Further information, including yet more revision to the list of countries, was not provided until after the meeting had ended,” Mr Yousaf added.
“I made clear that we must be able to consider the public health impact of these changed proposals, as well as the data and evidence underpinning them, before deciding on and announcing any changes.”