BORIS Johnson has said he thought it was "wrong" for him to hold regular meetings with Nicola Sturgeon and the Welsh First Minister during the Covid pandemic.

The former prime minister made the comments in his evidence submitted to the ongoing official inquiry into the pandemic.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford had been frustrated at the number of meetings he had been allowed with the UK Government during lockdown, the inquiry has heard.

Johnson told the inquiry he feared working closely with the Scottish and Welsh governments which would have made the UK into a “mini-EU of four nations", reports the BBC.

SNP president Mike Russell has described Johnson's views as "utterly disgusting".

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all have devolved responsibility for health, meaning they set different Covid rules from England during the pandemic, leading to vastly different restrictions across the UK.

Johnson initially chaired emergency meetings, commonly known as Cobra meetings, early in the pandemic but later passed the responsibility to the then Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon told off for Brexit comment at Covid inquiry

In written evidence to the inquiry, Johnson said: "I did chair some of the four nation [Cobras], but I was content to let Michael lead."

He added: “It is optically wrong, in the first place, for the UK prime minister to hold regular meetings with other [devolved administration] first ministers, as though the UK were a kind of mini-EU of four nations and we were meeting as a 'council' in a federal structure.

"That is not, in my view, how devolution is meant to work."

The National: Dominic Cummings

Russell said: "Utterly disgusting. To Johnson , [Alister] Jack and the other nasty Tory Brexit extremists politics, position and their puffed up pride were more important than working in partnership to serve (and save) people during a grave emergency."

Dominic Cummings (above), Johnson’s former chief adviser, revealed in WhatsApp messages provided to the inquiry he had warned against phone calls with the first ministers of the devolved governments.

In messages sent on March 12, 2020, Cummings wrote: “You need to chair daily meetings in the Cabinet room – not COBRA – on this from tomorrow. [I’m] going to tell the system this.

“NOT with the [devolved administrations] on the [f******] phone all the time either so people [can’t] tell you the truth.”

In minutes of a meeting of UK Government ministers at the time, Tory politicians expressed fears regular meetings with the devolved administrations could be a “potential federalist Trojan horse”.

The then-secretary of state for Wales, Simon Hart, was said to have been "nervous" about excluding the three countries from decisions.

It was also claimed Hart felt that Drakeford was "positioning himself for next year's [Welsh] assembly elections".

'Sturgeon grandstanding'

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack was recorded as saying that "working at official level would be better" than with the heads of government as it "would avoid Scottish [first minister] grandstanding".

Professor Ailsa Henderson, a political expert at Edinburgh University, told the inquiry the minutes were “the most remarkable document I have read in a number of years”.

She interpreted the UK Government’s response at the time as demonstrating a “fear of federalism, there is a fear of leaks", and said they showed the UK government perceived a "self-serving nature to the motives of the devolved administrations".

Johnson also told the inquiry he regretted making Covid laws through health legislation rather than civil contingencies legislation, which would have allowed the UK to centralise control of the pandemic response.

He said there was “always a risk" that the devolved governments "would diverge and choose a more restrictive measure, or one that was perhaps different for the sake of being different".