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Nicola Sturgeon calls government GMB boycott a "disgrace"

Nicola Sturgeon spoke to Good Morning Britain today about taking a different approach over Covid-19 to Boris Johnson and she called his ministers’ boycott of the show “disgraceful”. 

On the new measures announced in Scotland yesterday, she said: “Absolutely, it’s really tough, I haven’t done this lightly. I should say there are exemptions for people who need to care, child care, extended households, couples who don’t live together so we have been very careful to try to take into account the mental health implications. There is more flexibility outdoors for young people.

“But I have made a judgement that we are again at a tipping point with Covid. I’m looking at data that alarms me, frankly, and if we don’t act now urgently and decisively then we might find Covid running out of control again… If we take tough action now we might actually be under these restrictions for a shorter period of time than if we delay those actions.”

She went on: “These are tough judgements but given the loss of life… we have got to be prepared at moments like this, people like me, to take tough decisions and to be prepared to do things even if they are unpopular for the greater good. 

On the choices Prime Minister Boris Johnson had made, she said: “Look, I’ve tried all along not to criticise other leaders for taking decisions. We are all grappling with the most horrendously tough judgements just now. I can only look at the situation in Scotland. I can only speak for the judgements I am making and my advisors say to me that yes, a curfew on pubs is certainly something that should be done and we’ve taken that decision. But in and of itself it’s not going to be enough to arrest this increase in Covid cases and bring the R number down, and bring the epidemic under control again and that’s why I made the difficult judgement yesterday to go further.”

She said the household restrictions were already in place in large areas in Scotland and England and Wales at the moment in areas of higher transmission.

The politician continued: “We know that it is within domestic household settings that this virus is most likely to spread from one household to another… it’s easier to regulate public indoor spaces.”

She said the task was to suppress the virus to the lowest levels and then when things get tougher towards winter we are in a better place, adding: “The efforts and sacrifices have not been for nothing… but we are going into winter.”

On a more personal note, she added: “I am a human being, I’m an individual citizen, I am separated from my family, I am struggling with these decisions. This is the toughest stuff I’ve ever faced. We are all struggling with this, it’s nobody’s fault. I don’t think we should be trying to blame each other, our experiences are all different but we are all in it together and we will get through it. Previous generations have gone through even tougher things that lasted years, the Second World War for example. The one thing we know right now is that this virus will pass.”

She agreed that there should be a more coordinated global response. 

“I believe what I have announced, difficult though it is, is necessary. I am responsible for my decisions and I’m accountable for my decisions that’s why I’m on here, I will stand up in the Scottish Parliament and I will do a daily update today,” she said.

On care homes, the First Minister explained: “I am sorry for every death that has occurred, these things will stay with me for the rest of my life… no leader worth their salt carries that lightly. I think if we could turn the clock back, there are things in many aspects in the handling of this pandemic, including in care homes, that we would undoubtedly do differently.”

She said changes had been made along the way and she was looking at how to protect people in care homes better going into winter as we now have more knowledge about the virus.

On how often she spoke to Boris Johnson, she explained: “Not perhaps at as often as we should. Michel Gove tends to do more of the four nations dialogue, not that I’m knocking that discussions are useful.” She said Monday was the first time in quite some time she had spoken to Boris about Covid.

“It takes two to talk, I am perfectly happy to have more regular dialogue. The dialogue that takes place is useful.… this week, even though we have come to different decisions, I think it has been better this week that there has been more communication and engagement.”

On the 148 day boycott of Good Morning Britain, she concluded: “Yes, I think it’s pretty disgraceful actually, I think particularly at a time like this. We can’t be at all programmes, all the time... there is a limited number of hours in the day… but leaders have to be accountable and not just accountable but we have to be explaining the decisions we are taking. We are asking people to do extraordinary things and if we are not prepared to explain the reasons for that we can’t expect people to comply.

She said it was a “real public duty” and that the boycott of the show should end.

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