Analysis: Where Nicola Sturgeon leads, Boris Johnson eventually follows

Nicola Sturgeon today announced a full lockdown from midnight, just hours on from meeting with her Cabinet to discuss the situation.

The First Minister announced they were recalling Holyrood on Sunday morning. By the afternoon there was a Government statement, and shortly after that an extensive thread from Ms Sturgeon on her concerns and the reasons action would be taken.

On Monday Ms Sturgeon gave an address in Holyrood where she confirmed the lockdown, explained it and fielded questions from opposition parties on the detail.

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She assessed the data, made a decision and opened herself up to scrutiny. In less than 24 hours, the public knew something was coming, a meeting was held and the plans made law.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has again acted faster than the Prime Minister.
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has again acted faster than the Prime Minister.

Compare this to the Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson on Sunday completely failed to convey the seriousness of the situation or what was coming.

On Andrew Marr, the PM said at least four times that “schools were safe”, a quote he routinely demands Sir Keir Starmer make during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Asked if he’d read a report warning of a virus mutation from July last year, he dodged the question.

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Nicola Sturgeon announces full lockdown from midnight

Pushed further on the situation that has seen Britain’s infection rate soar higher than the worst stage of the first wave, Mr Johnson again failed set out a timetable to act.

He said: "It may be that we need to do things in the next few weeks that may be tougher. I'm fully reconciled to that. I think the whole country is fully reconciled to that."

At a time scientists are warning the UK’s death rate will reach 100,000 by the end of the month, Mr Johnson could still not guarantee immediate action.

Even as late as this morning, the PM was telling reporters “closing primary schools is a last resort ... given the educational damage that is done".

His is a premiership afraid to give bad news, a leader who told the public ‘we had 12 weeks to turn the tide, we can have life much closer to normal by Christmas, we can defeat the virus by spring’. On Britain’s darkest days, the PM disappears.

The public learned this evening the PM will be making an address at 8pm. If you are in England, you may have as little as four hours to prepare for the new rules.

That is, of course, if they come into effect from tonight. At the time of writing, we still don’t know. In Scotland you knew an address was coming by Sunday lunchtime, and all the details by 2:30pm on Monday.

It is also noteworthy this is an address, not a press conference. Members of the public and press cannot ask questions of the Government’s response.

Ms Sturgeon has entertained this every day in her briefings. Today, with the UK facing yet another lockdown, the PM is instead doing so only in the safe space of an empty room.

If you are pro-Scottish independence, or even sympathetic to it, these past two days will likely have only tipped the scale one way.

Ms Sturgeon delivers bad news herself and acts quickly to prevent further harm. The PM dithers and delays, the lockdown announcement accepted by every group chat in Britain before he’s even spoken.

Forget sovereignty, who would you want leading in a crisis?

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