Nicola Sturgeon is to set to announce her plan to lift the lockdown in Scotland next week, announcing what the “step-by-step” process will look like. This has stunned those in Westminster, which had advised Scotland against prematurely unveiling its plan to ease the lockdown measures. The SNP’s Ian Blackford told BBC Breakfast that Scotland didn’t need the UK’s approval to lift the lockdown, insisting Mrs Sturgeon “will use those powers in the interest of the Scottish people”.
Mr Blackford said: “There has to be a plan to get people through this and get people back to work when it is safe to do so. That will be done in an orderly manner.
“I don’t want to preempt what the First Minister will have to say next week – what is important is that the Government in Edinburgh does have a plan for this.”
In an apparent swipe at Westminster, Mr Blackford added: “We will show leadership and guidance to the people of Scotland, to ensure their trust during this period.”
When questioned if the SNP would lift lockdown measures before the rest of the UK, Mr Blackford insisted it was well within Scotland’s powers to act unilaterally.
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He explained: “All the Governments across the UK have worked very closely in the last few weeks – that is right and proper.
“But the administration in Edinburgh does have devolved powers and we have our own emergency legislation. We took action to close schools.
“We have those powers and we will use those in the interest for the people of Scotland. We want to work with the UK collectively.”
He dismissed fears in Downing Streets that unveiling plans to ease the lockdown would cause people to “relax” in their social distancing adherence.
She continued: “But the view in Westminster is that this is too early to entertain detailed discussions about what restriction-easing might look like.
“There is crucial scientific work going on in the next few weeks that will determine the strategy going forward. They don’t want to pre-empt those findings.
“Raab did mention five tests the Government had to ease restrictions – including a sustained fall in daily death rate and deploying an adequate number of tests.
“There could be discrepancies emerging between devolved governments and Westminster.”