Boris Johnson skips Cobra meeting as decision over Christmas restrictions goes unmade


Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has slammed Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak for their Cobra meeting no-show – despite more cash being pledged to combat the Omicron ‘tsunami’

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Sajid Javid didn’t rule out more Covid rules before Christmas

Boris Johnson was tonight slammed for swerving a vital Cobra meeting as the possibility of a Christmas Covid lockdown remains on a knife-edge.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hit out at the Prime Minister and Chancellor Rishi Sunak for skipping the summit, on the day more cash was pledged to combat the Omicron ‘tsunami’.

New coronavirus measures before Christmas have not been ruled out by the Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who said there are “no guarantees” following a “sobering analysis” from scientific advisers warning about the threat from Omicron.

It comes as the UK Government doubled the amount of additional funding available for the governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to tackle Covid from £430 million to £860 million.

But Mrs Sturgeon took a swipe on social media and stated that is has yet to be decided if the money will need to be repaid.

Prime Minster Boris Johnson is under scrutiny as Covid cases soar to record levels
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She tweeted: “Before we get spin on ‘doubling’: 1/ the £220m announced last week was NOT new or additional (it was actually £48m less than we had been expecting). Seeking confirmation if this new £220m is additional (tho if so £48m will just make up last w/k loss) and if it has to be repaid.”

She said that “to the extent it is new/additional”, the Scottish Government will make sure it goes in full to helping business and the overall Covid effort.

Ms Sturgeon added: “As infections soar and businesses suffer, we still need much more urgency in action/support from UK Gov – so that devolved gov hands not tied.

“To that end, it was disappointing and frustrating that neither the PM nor the Chancellor attended this evening’s COBRA.”

Nicola Sturgeon has lashed out at the Prime Minister and the Chancellor
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Chancellor Sunak confirmed the increased funding following discussions with the devolved administrations.

The additional amounts now being provided to each government – on top of their Autumn Budget 2021 funding – are £440 million to the Scottish Government, £270 million to the Welsh Government and £150 million to the Northern Ireland Executive.

Mr Sunak said: “Following discussions with the Devolved Administrations, we are now doubling the additional funding available.

“We will continue to listen to and work with the Devolved Administrations in the face of this serious health crisis to ensure we’re getting the booster to people all over the UK and that people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are supported.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed the increased funding
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There has been no further government comment of a potential lockdown before the end of 2021.

Sajid Javid said while there remains uncertainty about the new variant, it is time to be “more cautious” amid the rapid spread of the strain.

His comments came as it was reported stricter measures could be imposed in light of the warning from experts that there are likely already hundreds of thousands of new infections every day.

Modelling from scientific advisers, published on Saturday, showed that if ministers stuck to the current Plan B measures, there could be a peak of 3,000 hospital admissions in England per day.

Advisers also said hospital admissions with the variant in the UK are “probably around one tenth of the true number” due to a lag in reporting.

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Despite the ramping-up of the booster programme, experts said it would not help in terms of hospitals admissions in the near future, as many would be people who are infected now before immunity has had time to build.

Mr Javid said Omicron is “spreading rapidly” and now accounts for around 80% of infections in London and about 60% in England.

Asked about ruling out new coronavirus measures before Christmas, he said there is “a lot of uncertainty”, but that it is “time to be more cautious”.

He told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One: “There are no guarantees in this pandemic, I don’t think.

“At this point we just have to keep everything under review.”

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www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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