Coronavirus in Scotland RECAP: First Minister gives Covid update at Holyrood | Nicola Sturgeon hails reduction in hospital cases | FM says Scottish Government wants to get Glasgow back on track ‘as quickly as possible’ | Scottish Greens leaders apologise after Covid breach | Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock respond to Dominic Cummings’ attacks on them

Live updates on Covid-19 from Scotland, the UK, and around the world.

By Gary Flockhart
Thursday, 27th May 2021, 8:30 am
Updated Thursday, 27th May 2021, 1:25 pm

Hello, and welcome to our live blog for Thursday, May 27.

Follow along for all the latest on the pandemic as well as live coverage of Nicola Sturgeon’s appearance at First Minister’s Questions.

Live updates on Covid-19 from Scotland, the UK, and around the world.

Coronavirus in Scotland LIVE: The latest updates on Thursday, May 27

Last updated: Thursday, 27 May, 2021, 13:47

  • Sturgeon: Drop in Covid cases in hospital and ICU ‘reasons to be optimistic’
  • Cummings’ claims not true, says Hancock
  • Scottish Greens leaders apologise after Covid breach

In terms of getting Glasgow back on track, Nicola Sturgeon reiterates that a careful and cautious approach is required

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the Government had to take an “incredibly difficult series of decisions” to tackle coronavirus, “none of which we have taken lightly”.

Today’s FMQs will be the first for Alison Johnstone as the new presiding officer

Boris Johnson said responding to the pandemic had been an “incredibly difficult series of decisions, none of which we have taken lightly” and “at every stage we have been governed by a determination to protect life”.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock did not take the opportunity to apologise to the families of those who died in care homes when asked to by Liberal Democrat Munira Wilson.

The link between Covid-19 cases, hospital admissions and deaths is being “severed” but it is too early to say whether the June 21 lifting of restrictions will go ahead, Matt Hancock said.

A total of 14,051 people tested positive for Covid-19 in England at least once in the week to May 19, according to the latest Test and Trace figures.

This is broadly unchanged (down 0.2%) on the previous week, but up 5% on the week to May 5.

Hancock rejects Cummings’ ‘unsubstantiated allegations’ about his conduct

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the “unsubstantiated” attacks on him by Dominic Cummings are “not true”, as he fought to save his career.

Boris Johnson’s former aide accused Mr Hancock of repeatedly lying, being disastrously incompetent and claimed he should have been fired on multiple occasions during the course of the pandemic.

Forced to go to the House of Commons to respond to the claims, Mr Hancock said: “These unsubstantiated allegations around honesty are not true.

“I’ve been straight with people in public and in private throughout.”

During a seven-hour evidence session to MPs on Wednesday, Mr Cummings claimed his former boss, the Prime Minister, is “unfit” to lead and his Government’s failures had led to tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

Apart from his damning assessment of Mr Johnson, Mr Cummings saved his fiercest criticism for Mr Hancock over failings around care homes policy, personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement and his public pledge on a testing target which caused disruption in Whitehall.

Mr Cummings told MPs that the Prime Minister had been told “categorically in March that people will be tested before they went back to care homes” from hospital by Mr Hancock – something which did not happen.

It was “complete nonsense” to claim the Government had put a shield around care homes, Mr Cummings claimed.

He said Mr Hancock should have been sacked on 15 to 20 occasions and Whitehall’s top mandarin at the time, Sir Mark Sedwill, had “lost confidence in the Secretary of State’s honesty”.

Answering an urgent question in the Commons, Mr Hancock said: “Every day since I began working on the response to this pandemic last January, I’ve got up each morning and asked ‘What must I do to protect life?’

“That is the job of the Health Secretary in a pandemic.

“We’ve taken an approach of openness, transparency and explanation of both what we know and of what we don’t know.”

Mr Cummings accused the Health Secretary of making a “stupid” public pledge to increase testing to 100,000 by the end of April 2020, claiming he then interfered with the building of the Test and Trace system to maximise his chances of hitting his target.

“It was criminal, disgraceful behaviour that caused serious harm,” Mr Cummings claimed.

But in the Commons, Mr Hancock defended his approach and said: “Setting and meeting ambitious targets is how you get stuff done in Government.”

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the allegations made by Mr Cummings are either true – in which case Mr Hancock “potentially stands in breach of the ministerial code” and the principles of standards in public life – or they are false “and the Prime Minister brought a fantasist and a liar into the heart of Downing Street”.

Mr Hancock’s Cabinet colleague, Robert Jenrick, rejected Mr Cummings’ central claim that tens of thousands of people died unnecessarily because of the Government’s handling of the crisis.

Asked directly whether he thinks that claim is wrong, the Communities Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Yes, I think it is, because you have to remember that we didn’t have all of the facts at the time that the decisions were being taken.

“Nobody, I think, could doubt for one moment that the Prime Minister was doing anything other than acting with the best of motives with the information and the advice that was available to him.”

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth, asking the urgent question, earlier highlighted the “grave and serious” allegations from Dominic Cummings.

He told the Commons: “That the Prime Minister is unfit for office, that his inaction meant that tens of thousands needlessly died, allegations from Dominic Cummings that he specifically is accused of misleading colleagues – an allegation from Mr Cummings – on our preparedness and lack of protection for people in care homes.

“These allegations from Cummings are either true, and if so the Secretary of State potentially stands in breach of the ministerial code and the Nolan principles, or they are false and the Prime Minister brought a fantasist and a liar into the heart of Downing Street. Which is it?

“Families who have lost loved ones deserve full answers from him today.

“Is he ashamed he promised a protective shield around care homes and over 30,000 care home residents have died?”

Page 3 of 5