A national radio presenter has implied Downing Street is taking coronavirus policy cues off Nicola Sturgeon following a recent move that made face coverings in schools across parts of England compulsory.
talkRADIO host Julia Harltey-Brewer insinuated that Scotland’s first minister had more impact on England’s public health policy than Downing Street’s own scientific advisors.
The government announced it was following steps taken in Scotland to encourage secondary school pupils to wear face covering in schools across England. The Department for Education also made face masks compulsory in schools under a local lockdown.
It followed a major U-turn on A-Levels results on August 17.
Slamming the decision on face masks, Hartley-Brewer said: ‘It’s another day, another shambolic government U-turn. Every single day there’s a government U-turn.
‘It was only yesterday morning that I was talking to the business secretary Alok Sharma asking him whether or not the government would follow Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, in imposing face masks in corridors and communal spaces in schools and [he replied] no, no, no that was not government policy and in fact there was a ban on such things in schools in England.
‘What a surprise that a few hours later the government did u-turn.’
Among changes being made is giving headteachers the right to decide when face covers should be worn around schools.
Frustrated by the second major volte-face in nine days, Hartley-Brewer erupted: ‘Can we go a matter of hours anymore without another embarrassing U-turn?’
She said it was fine to change policy in light of new scientific advice but that ‘there was no scientific or medical advice that changed yesterday’ that justified the government’s latest change of mind.
‘As far as I can tell, it seems that government policy in England schools is now being led by what Nicola Sturgeon does in Scotland.
‘I don’t know about you but I don’t remember voting last December to put Nicola Sturgeon in charge of England’s schools.’
She added: ‘It is high time this government got to grips with what is going on, follow the medical and scientific advice, explain it then stick to it.’
Hartley-Brewer said she would be ‘surprised’ if parents of teachers had received clear guidance from the government on how schools would be re-opened next week.
She quipped: ‘There’s probably no point them knowing what the plan is next week right now because, hey, we’ve got a whole week.
‘That’s enough time for seven more U-turns by the government.’
Twitter users agreed. One user wrote: ‘Logic! Love it!’
David Maloney said: ‘Julia it’s called leadership – or rather, the lack of it.’
Gilliana Beth said: ‘When a government stands for nothing it stands for everything. Chaos is the result.’