Coronavirus: PM 'must show respect' to UK nations over lockdown

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Ian BlackfordImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Ian Blackford said all opposition parties wanted to work with Mr Johnson

The SNP's leader at Westminster has said Prime Minister Boris Johnson's coronavirus strategy must "show respect" for the UK's devolved nations.

Ian Blackford said it was important for the whole of the UK to be pulling in the same direction.

Mr Johnson will review the coronavirus lockdown in England with his cabinet later, after suggesting some rules could be eased from Monday.

But Mr Blackford says the PM should be working to build a UK-wide consensus.

He told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme: "In a situation like this, when lives really are at stake, it is important that we do things in the correct manner.

"I'm extending that hand of friendship to the prime minister. All of us want to work with him, but he has to show respect to the devolved administrations."

By law, the UK government must review the lockdown every three weeks, and Thursday marks the latest deadline.

The prime minister will address the nation on Sunday to outline plans for the next stage of the lockdown.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Boris Johnson is believed to favour easing some lockdown restrictions

The "stay at home" message is expected to be scrapped in England, with ministers keen to restart the economy.

Options for easing the lockdown will be discussed with representatives of the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland later.

Mr Blackford said it may be the case that future advice in Scotland is different to that in the rest of the United Kingdom.

He said: "We know that the infection rate - the R rate - in Scotland is slightly above the rest of the UK.

"First and foremost, the public would expect us to look after the interests of the people that live here."

Image caption,
A large number of people were photographed sunbathing in Glasgow's Botanic Gardens during the lockdown

Mr Blackford said he was concerned about an apparent increase in the numbers of people spending more time out of their homes.

It follows a large number of people being photographed flouting lockdown rules in a Glasgow park.

Families and groups of sunbathers were pictured observing the two-metre distancing rules while they enjoyed the sunny weather in the city's Botanic Gardens.

But they were breaking restrictions on leaving their homes for only essential journeys - which have been in place for more than six weeks.

Second spike

Mr Blackford said: "We are still facing an enormous death toll and everything we do should be based on the scientific and medical advice.

"What we should be focusing on are the health considerations for the public and the absolute desire to drive down the impact of this virus.

"If we allow an earlier removal of restrictions, all we are going to do is run the risk of that second spike and the impact on the health of individuals and the economy will actually be greater.

"There has to be discipline and an appreciation from the population of what we are doing and why."

Also appearing on the Good Morning Scotland programme, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he was "worried" about Scotland potentially taking a different approach to restrictions to the rest of the UK.

He said: "Across the United Kingdom, we went into lockdown together and I think it would be far better if any easing or relaxation was done together.

"There are real problems if different regions and different nations do it at different times.

"We could have all sorts of consequences, with people travelling around the country from one area to another."