THE First Minister broke down senior Tories’ “absurd and ridiculous” comments about possible Scottish Border measures to prevent further Covid-19 outbreaks this afternoon, after Alister Jack accused her of using “reckless” language.

Nicola Sturgeon failed to rule out implementing quarantine measures on people entering Scotland from the rest of the UK if public health measures called for it.

Sturgeon has said Scotland’s aim with the virus is to “get as close to elimination as possible” – but warned the UK Government appeared to be “letting it circulate at higher levels”.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon rejects Tory claim of 'reckless' Scottish Border talk

Meanwhile public health expert Devi Sridhar, who advises the Scottish Government on the pandemic, has said Scotland “will probably never get, without England’s co-operation, to full elimination”.

Speaking in the Commons this morning, the Scottish Secretary accused Sturgeon of using “divisive” language on the Border – while Boris Johnson denied there is a Scottish Border at all.

At her daily briefing after PMQs, the First Minister was asked for her response to the pair before receiving a request for comment on contractors testing positive at the RAF Lossiemouth base in Moray. 

Responding, Sturgeon explained exactly why implementing some measures around entering Scotland would not be political or constitutional, but a matter of public health.

Asked more specifically about Johnson's denial of a Scottish Border, the FM said: "If the Prime Minister is questioning that now I'm not sure what he would say if I pitched up in Newcastle and started to try to implement Scottish Government polices."

Here is what the SNP leader had to say.


I’m going to hand over to Jason to answer the part of the question about Moray, and part of the reason I’m going to do that is to separate out the really vital public health challenges that we are dealing with right now from the absurd and ridiculous political statements that I am understandably being asked to respond to.

Dealing with a virus that we have learned over these past three months is potentially deadly and as we are increasingly learning is also very dangerous to people who don’t die from it but can be left with long-term health implications, a virus that is highly infectious and can do the damage we’ve seen it do. The decisions I take, and the Scottish Government take, to tackle that virus, must be 100% driven by public health considerations.

What is it that we need to do break the chains of transmission and mitigate against the risk of cases in an area of high transmission coming into an area of lower transmission and then risking outbreaks there. That is not political. That is constitutional. That is public health.

And I would be irresponsible if I had a consideration around this that was political that was therefore preventing me doing what is necessary in case somebody accuses me of being political. That would be when I was failing in my duty as First Minister.

And what I would say – and opposition leaders perhaps can be excused a little bit more around this because they’re not in the day-to-day dealing with this in the way governments are, but frankly a Prime Minister or a Secretary of State, who in a government sense are dealing with the same issues I am right now, to try to politicise these things is shameful. And is unacceptable.

And perhaps everybody needs to look around the world right now. Well firstly at home – just make sure they understand what we’re dealing with here and how it spreads and the things we’ve got to do to try and stop it spreading, which are some of the things we’re talking about right now. How do we stop a cluster of cases in Dumfries and Galloway getting into other parts of Scotland or going south of the Border. That’s about how a virus spreads. It’s not about politics or a constitution.

And as well as looking at these issues at home, look around the world right now. The governor of New York today, and you can find this on Twitter, has put out information about the states in America from which people going into New York will be quarantined for 14 days. Now, I don’t think the governor of New York is being political or constitutional there. He’s just looking at a situation where transmission in New York has been driven down, and in other states it’s much higher, so he’s trying to protect the people he serves from being exposed from further spread of a virus. That’s responsible. And this is not a political challenge we’re dealing with here.

I look forward, I very much look forward, because it will mean we’re out of this crisis situation, to getting back to the day where I can have straight-forward political and constitutional debates with my opposite numbers. And I will relish that as a politician and somebody who has very strong beliefs. But right now, I have a duty. And it’s a duty I take really seriously, to protect Scotland from this virus. And I have no plans at the moment, because the situation right now doesn’t necessitate it, to have any consideration around quarantine of people coming into Scotland. But if that changes, and the advice I am getting is that would be a necessary measure to protect people in Scotland from a resurgence of this virus, then I would be failing in my duty not to consider that. Just as the governor of New York undoubtedly would be failing in his duty if he didn’t impose quarantine on people coming in from other states in America just now where this virus is running out of control again.

So I would say to people, anybody you hear politicising this or trying to turn it into a proxy debate about Scottish independence or the constitution, they’re the ones who are being reckless and they are the ones who are failing the public health test. And I am going to continue to take these decisions on the basis that they need to be taken.