THE SNP president has called out a Tory peer who said Scotland “always wanted” to implement different Covid rules from what England was doing. 

Speaking at the UK Covid Inquiry, former Downing Street chief of staff and Boris Johnson ally Lord Udny-Lister was told that devolved nations were entitled to make their own decisions on “health issues” during the pandemic.

The peer said: “In each of them there was a chief medical officer and the chief medical officer for England Chris Whitty used to have regular meetings with his opposite numbers, the chief medical officers of those devolved administrations.

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“That I think all worked pretty smoothly and pretty straightforwardly. It was the politics that was always the problem.

“It seemed to us in Downing Street that it didn’t matter what the decision was, Scotland would always want to do it slightly differently than England.”

Commenting on the video, SNP president Michael Russell pointed out that Scotland has had control over its health policy for some time.

The National:

Writing on Twitter/X, he said: “Fact: Scotland has been doing it differently since a separate Scottish Board of Health was established by legislation in 1919.

“Not that Tory peers would bother with such practical detail.”

In his witness statement to the inquiry, Udny-Lister said there was a “very real issue” aligning England’s approach with that of the devolved administrations.

The statement added: “Generally, there was good co-operation with Northern Ireland and Wales.

“However, this was less effective in the case of the Scottish administration which was keen to announce measures either before or after of the rest of the UK for reasons which appeared more political than data-driven.”

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Speaking to the inquiry, the peer said there was a “real desire” from the Scottish Government to show they were “running a different operation” and “doing things better”.

“It always seemed as there was a desire just to be different,” he said.

On Johnson, Udny-Lister said: “I think there was a constant feeling by him that whatever he was going to say, they (the Scottish Government) were going to play politics with it and do something slightly different and that’s what happened time after time."