USING a Union flag backdrop at UK Government coronavirus press conferences while announcing rule changes for England caused “unacceptable” confusion over restrictions, according to a influential committee.

The constitution committee of the House of Lords has released a report on the UK’s Covid-19 response – and criticised Boris Johnson’s chosen backdrop during TV briefings on lockdown rules.

Lords were particularly critical of the Prime Minister’s announcement of a third lockdown for England, which was presented in front of a Union flag as usual.

The National:

“This may have created the impression that the legal changes applied throughout the UK when they extended only to England,” they wrote.

“The UK Government has failed to make it clear when announcements only extend to England.

“This has caused unacceptable and unnecessary confusion for members of the public throughout the UK.”

With health a devolved area, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales all make their own decisions on coronavirus restrictions.

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While during the first lockdown the nations decided to act largely in step, the first major change came when Johnson decided to change the pandemic messaging from Stay at Home to Stay Alert.

“This change was apparently made without consulting or informing the devolved administrations,” the committee said.

They wrote they were concerned that since this point in May 2020, communication and co-operation between the nations looks to have “decreased significantly” while rules have diverged.

The National:

Stuart McMillan (above), the SNP MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, said the Tory government’s obsession with Union Jackery has now been “exposed as a direct risk to public health”.

“Their sole focus throughout the pandemic should have been clear and consistent public health advice,” he said.

“Instead, their fixation with plastering everything with a Union flag for political purposes resulted in ambiguous messaging that increased the risk to the health and wellbeing of citizens living beyond England’s borders.

“This is dangerous and unforgivable and the Westminster Tory government must learn the lesson that the protection of citizens is always a higher priority than political posturing.”