Smoking gun email that ‘PROVES Nicola Sturgeon was using Covid to break up the UK’: SNP deputy leader opposed travel ban on Spain at height of pandemic ‘because they might never let Scotland join the EU’

Smoking gun email that ‘PROVES Nicola Sturgeon was using Covid to break up the UK’: SNP deputy leader opposed travel ban on Spain at height of pandemic ‘because they might never let Scotland join the EU’

Nicola Sturgeon’s tearful denials of ‘politicising’ Covid took a significant hit at this time as an electronic mail confirmed her deputy opposed a Covid journey ban on Spain for worry it will wreck Scotland’s probabilities of becoming a member of the EU.

The message from John Swinney in July 2020 was highlighted as Ms Sturgeon gave proof on the official inquiry this afternoon.

Mr Swinney was intervening as senior figures within the Scottish authorities thought of whether or not rising instances in Spain meant it ought to be faraway from the checklist of secure international locations.

He wrote: ‘It will not matter how a lot ministers may justify it on well being grounds, the Spanish authorities will conclude it’s totally political; they will not overlook; there’s a actual risk they’ll by no means approve EU membership for an impartial Scotland in consequence.’ 

The bombshell electronic mail got here after Ms Sturgeon repeatedly choked up as she insisted she had not sought to weaponise the pandemic for her independence trigger. 

She argued this afternoon that the choice to maintain Spain on the secure checklist a day later was made on ‘public well being grounds’, relatively than with EU membership in thoughts.

Nonetheless, quarantine necessities for travellers Spain had been reinstated six days in a while July 26 as instances rose sharply. 

In different key moments from the Covid inquiry session at this time:

  • Ms Sturgeon advised the listening to that she used a private telephone to conduct authorities enterprise, saying she had not been suggested it was inappropriate;
  • She mentioned she had ‘by no means seen messages earlier than’ wherein an official reminded civil servants in a WhatsApp group the place the ‘clear chat’ operate was and that ‘believable deniability is my center title’;
  • Messages exchanged between Ms Sturgeon and her former chief of workers Liz Lloyd confirmed the SNP chief having an in depth dialog about the best way to change hospitality guidelines;
  • Ms Sturgeon fended off questions on whether or not she repeatedly ‘gazumped’ Westminster by asserting motion earlier than Boris Johnson, saying the Scottish public was ‘determined’ to know what was occurring;
  • Ms Sturgeon conceded it was ‘intuition’ for her to marketing campaign for independence, however mentioned her solely purpose within the early phases of the pandemic was to ‘do the perfect we may to maintain individuals secure’.  

A bombshell electronic mail proven on the inquiry confirmed Ms Sturgeon’s deputy raised issues about placing Spain beneath journey restrictions as a result of ‘there is a risk they’ll by no means approve EU membership for an impartial Scotland in consequence’ 

John Swinney

The former First Minister choked up during a bruising session at the official inquiry today

The message from John Swinney in July 2020 was highlighted as Ms Sturgeon gave proof on the official inquiry this afternoon

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy mentioned: ‘This bombshell electronic mail proves that the SNP Authorities had been debating the impression of public well being choices on their independence marketing campaign on the top of the pandemic.

‘It’s the newest piece of compelling proof to completely undermine Nicola Sturgeon’s declare that her obsession with breaking apart the UK was placed on maintain amid Covid.

‘The shameful actuality is that her authorities had been always gaming their independence push when they need to have been centered solely on public well being.’

Ms Sturgeon repeatedly appeared on the verge of tears throughout a bruising session on the official inquiry, admitting {that a} ‘massive half’ of her wished she had not been in cost throughout the pandemic.

The emotional second got here after Ms Sturgeon acknowledged that messages in regards to the pandemic response had not been stored.

Regardless of being proven examples of discussions which have survived regarding key insurance policies on restrictions, she insisted all vital issues had been handled ‘formally’.

However she admitted that ‘maybe should not have’ given Professor Devi Sridhar a separate SNP electronic mail deal with to contact her on. 

She was additionally pressured to dismiss criticism for purchasing what have been described as ‘burner’ telephones on Parliamentary bills, insisting they merely had been for employees who working from house.

Ms Sturgeon argued that that the temper within the Scottish authorities had been ‘severe, purposeful and collegiate’ – rejecting recommendations she noticed the disaster as a method of furthering her ‘mission’ of breaking apart the UK.

Requested by inquiry counsel Jamie Dawson about her expertise of the pandemic, Ms Sturgeon choked up saying in some ways she wished she had not been in Bute Home on the time. 

She mentioned her purpose had been to be the ‘greatest First Minister I might be’, flatly denying that she noticed the state of affairs as a ‘political alternative’. 

‘It’s for others to guage whether or not I succeeded,’ she added.

Ms Sturgeon initially mentioned her WhatsApp messages ‘weren’t retained’.

However the KC endured: ‘Did you delete them?’

Ms Sturgeon mentioned: ‘Sure, within the method I’ve set out.’

The proof classes started after Ms Sturgeon was heckled on arrival on the venue in Edinburgh, the place the probe is sitting because it considers Scottish points.

The SNP MSP was greeted with shouts of ‘the place are your WhatsApps‘ and ‘extra deaths’. 

The former First Minister stressed that discussions about the response to the pandemic took place 'formally' as she kicked off a full day of questioning

The previous First Minister confused that discussions in regards to the response to the pandemic happened ‘formally’ as she kicked off a full day of questioning

Sturgeon’s key quotes from Covid inquiry 

On ‘weaponising’ Covid for independence marketing campaign: 

‘I did not see a possibility of any description in Covid. I noticed a risk, a threat, a disaster. My recollections of the early a part of 2020… was first worry at what is likely to be about to unfold and confront the nation.

‘At occasions in these early days I felt overwhelmed by the dimensions of what we had been coping with.

‘Maybe greater than something I felt an amazing accountability to do the perfect I may.’

On deleting WhatsApps: 

‘I operated from 2007, based mostly on recommendation, the coverage that messages, enterprise regarding authorities shouldn’t be stored on a telephone that might be misplaced or stolen and insecure in that method, however correctly recorded by means of the system.

‘I’d wish to once more underline that communication was extraordinarily restricted and wouldn’t relate it to issues of substantive authorities decision-making.’

On giving Professor Devi Sridhar her SNP electronic mail deal with for ‘non-public’ communications: 

‘On reflection maybe I should not have performed that…

‘But when I had been in any method attempting to direct her to a non-public electronic mail deal with, I doubt if I’d have put my authorities electronic mail deal with in there as effectively.’

On regretting being First Minister throughout Covid:

‘I used to be the primary minister when the pandemic struck.

‘There’s a big a part of me needs that I hadn’t been however I used to be and I wished to be the perfect first minister.’

‘It’s for others to guage whether or not I succeeded.’ 

On her foremost remorse of the pandemic:

‘Of the numerous regrets I’ve, in all probability chief of these is that we did not lock down every week, two weeks, sooner than we did.’ 

Ms Sturgeon once more welled up as she rejected the concept she had seen a ‘political alternative’.

‘I did not see a possibility of any description in Covid. I noticed a risk, a threat, a disaster. My recollections of the early a part of 2020… was first worry at what is likely to be about to unfold and confront the nation,’ she mentioned.

‘At occasions in these early days I felt overwhelmed by the dimensions of what we had been coping with.

‘Maybe greater than something I felt an amazing accountability to do the perfect I may.’

She insisted that in these ‘days and week’ it ‘wasn’t true’ that she perceived a political alternative.

In additional tetchy exchanges with Mr Dawson, the previous SNP chief mentioned: ‘I’ve not mentioned and I am not saying at this time that I by no means used casual technique of communication.’ 

‘What I’m saying is that I did so very not often and to not focus on problems with substance or something that might be described as choice making.

‘There was a excessive diploma of ritual across the choice making of the Scottish Authorities.’

A number of figures in Ms Sturgeon’s authorities have already confronted questions on the inquiry about their deletion of messages throughout the pandemic. 

Ms Sturgeon has conceded messages had not been retained on her personal units however mentioned she had managed to retrieve copies to undergo the inquiry.

She has mentioned casual messages had been handed over to the inquiry final 12 months.

Scottish Authorities ministers and officers have mentioned choices had been routinely recorded on the official system even when messages had been deleted according to coverage.

Final week, Ms Sturgeon’s former chief of workers Liz Lloyd gave proof to the inquiry.

After message exchanges between the pair had been proven in proof, Ms Lloyd denied a choice about visitor limits on weddings throughout the pandemic was made ‘on the hoof’.

In a single message seen by the inquiry, Ms Sturgeon referred to then prime minister Boris Johnson as a ‘f****** clown.’

Present First Minister Humza Yousaf, in his proof to the inquiry final Thursday, provided an ‘unreserved’ apology for the Scottish Authorities’s ‘frankly poor’ dealing with of requests for WhatsApp messages.

He has introduced an exterior overview into the Authorities’s use of cellular messaging.

Ms Sturgeon mentioned at this time that WhatsApp had grow to be ‘too widespread’ a way of communication throughout the Scottish Authorities.

The messages highlighted at the inquiry today showed Ms Sturgeon and Ms Lloyd engaged in a detailed discussion in October 2020 about what times to allow restaurants to stay open until

The messages highlighted on the inquiry at this time confirmed Ms Sturgeon and Ms Lloyd engaged in an in depth dialogue in October 2020 about what occasions to permit eating places to remain open till

Nicola Sturgeon was heckled over her deleted WhatsApps today as she arrived to face a grilling at the Covid inquiry

Nicola Sturgeon was heckled over her deleted WhatsApps at this time as she arrived to face a grilling on the Covid inquiry

Nicola Sturgeon insisted she did not make 'extensive' use of WhatsApp during Covid today as she faced a grilling at the Covid inquiry

Nicola Sturgeon insisted she didn’t make ‘in depth’ use of WhatsApp throughout Covid at this time as she confronted a grilling on the Covid inquiry

She mentioned: ‘When individuals are sending messages on WhatsApp, they do not assume, together with me and subsequently messages, when they’re regarded again at in a while, could be open to completely different interpretations as a result of individuals have not actually thought in regards to the phrases they’re utilizing.

‘And I feel that actually can be true of a number of the exchanges that the inquiry has been taking a look at.’

Requested by Mr Dawson if she recalled receiving an electronic mail in regards to the significance of retaining messages on August 3 2021, Ms Sturgeon replied: ‘I don’t so far as I’m conscious, I didn’t obtain that.’

Mr Dawson requested: ‘You recall, I’d think about, in a normal sense that such a notification was despatched out?’

Ms Sturgeon mentioned: ‘I’d say this: that I do not assume I’d have required to see that to know that issues that had been related to know the issues that had been related.’

The previous first minister mentioned she had ‘all the time assumed there can be a public inquiry’.

Ms Sturgeon advised the inquiry: ‘I operated from 2007, based mostly on recommendation, the coverage that messages, enterprise regarding authorities shouldn’t be stored on a telephone that might be misplaced or stolen and insecure in that method, however correctly recorded by means of the system.

‘I’d wish to once more underline that communication was extraordinarily restricted and wouldn’t relate it to issues of substantive authorities decision-making.’

The messages highlighted on the inquiry at this time confirmed Ms Sturgeon and Ms Lloyd engaged in an in depth dialogue in October 2020 about what occasions to permit eating places to remain open till.

Ms Sturgeon wrote: ‘I’m having a little bit of a disaster in choice making in hospitality, not helped by the actual fact I have not slept. The general public well being argument says follow 6pm/no alcohol for degree 3. However I think the trade will go mad – and I fear we may derail debate.’

However the MSP mentioned at this time: ‘I take a look at this and I do not contemplate that there’s something in that, would not be mirrored by means of the choice making and the proof of the choice making of the federal government and undoubtedly hospitality and the impression on hospitality.’ 

Pressed that there was nothing within the public file stating ‘we must always prob follow 6 it is all so random’, Ms Sturgeon mentioned: ‘This is the reason I do not assume WhatsApp ought to be used to have substantial discussions – 4 years on we will placed on a unique interpretation.

‘However there have been moments that no matter we’d do, would trigger issue and hurt for any individual.’

Mr Dawson mentioned: ‘This was a dialogue that associated to an vital choice made in the middle of the pandemic.’

Ms Sturgeon replied: ‘That might have been mentioned and recorded at Cupboard.’

The MSP was interrogated a couple of report she used Parliamentary bills to buy an £18 Nokia telephone and SIM playing cards in March 2020.

She insisted that the so-called ‘burner’ was purchased to divert calls from her constituency workplace to workers pressured to do business from home throughout lockdown.

Ms Sturgeon was adamant she had ‘by no means to the perfect of my information seen, held and definitely not used any of those telephones’.

Ms Sturgeon additionally confronted questions on her choice to offer public well being professional Professor Devi Sridhar along with her SNP electronic mail deal with to ‘privately’ be contacted.

‘On reflection maybe I should not have performed that,’ she mentioned.

‘But when I had been in any method attempting to direct her to a non-public electronic mail deal with, I doubt if I’d have put my authorities electronic mail deal with in there as effectively.’

In an trade about so-called ‘gold command’ conferences chaired by Ms Sturgeon throughout her time in Bute Home the place not minutes had been taken, Mr Dawson requested if there was a ‘theme’ creating the place her authorities sought to cover discussions on the conferences.

‘No – I’d very, very strongly refute that,’ the previous first minister mentioned.

‘I’ve take a look at the entire cupboard papers and minutes over that entire interval – it runs to 1000’s of pages.’

She mentioned the data went additional than simply choices made and coated the rationale behind them.

Ms Sturgeon was pressed on not attending the ‘Operation Nimbus’ planning train in early 2020. 

That included senior politicians from the broader UK and devolved administrations, drawing up a ‘battleplan’ for Covid in a situation the place the loss of life toll hit 840,000 by the center of April

The previous SNP chief defended lacking the train, saying it was not ‘irregular’ to delegate ministers and ‘not everybody could be at all the pieces without delay’.

The difficulty of Ms Sturgeon ‘gazumping’ wider UK choices was mentioned on the listening to.

Relating to one episode the place she introduced the conclusions of a Cobra assembly earlier than then-PM Boris Johnson, the ex-SNP chief mentioned she had a ‘responsibility to the individuals of Scotland’.

‘I used to be stunned to talk earlier than him, not as a result of I went too rapidly however as a result of by the point I did it he hadn’t.’ 

Ms Sturgeon mentioned she had a ‘sturdy dedication’ to working with the opposite UK nations on Covid. However she added: ‘I had an obligation as First Minister of Scotland to the individuals of Scotland.’ 

Mr Dawson put it to Ms Sturgeon she wished to be ‘the one who had pushed Covid out of Scotland’, which she rejected.

The previous first minister mentioned: ‘I hoped that the choices my authorities would take would maintain Covid on the lowest potential degree, in order that it took the lives of fewer individuals, minimised the disruption to individuals’s livelihoods and the schooling of youngsters.

‘I settle for that there will likely be real and severe scrutiny of the content material of selections that had been taken, and a few of these choices I want I had taken, my authorities, had taken otherwise, some – I feel – had been proper.

‘My motives on this had been solely ever about attempting to do the suitable factor to minimise the general hurt that the virus was doing.

‘The toll it took, in Scotland, as in different elements of the UK, was far too excessive, so I did not do this as efficiently as I want I used to be capable of, however maybe in some methods the measures we took had some impression.’

Former Scottish Authorities ministers Kate Forbes and John Swinney gave proof to the inquiry yesterday.

Mr Swinney mentioned he ‘manually’ deleted messages between himself, Ms Sturgeon and Mr Yousaf in a observe which may date again to 2007.

The inquiry was earlier advised that conferences of senior ministers exterior the cupboard – often called the ‘gold command’ – weren’t minuted.

Ms Forbes mentioned she was ‘stunned’ these and Scottish Authorities Resilience Room conferences went unminuted.

Discussing the exterior overview into messaging, a Scottish Authorities spokeswoman mentioned: ‘Because the First Minister outlined, he has commissioned an externally led overview into the usage of cellular messaging apps and non-corporate expertise within the Scottish Authorities.

‘This may take explicit account of Authorities interplay with statutory public inquiries.

‘Throughout this era, we’ll proceed to maintain our data administration coverage beneath overview according to laws.

‘The exterior overview will inform a wider inner data administration coverage overview.

‘Extra element on the exterior and inner critiques will likely be given sooner or later.’

Showing earlier than the official inquiry on Monday, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove mentioned the SNP had a transparent ‘mission’ to ‘destroy the UK’.

He pointed to ‘direct proof’ that had been offered in regards to the Scottish Cupboard discussing how the pandemic may improve the push for independence.

And Mr Gove, who was liable for coordinating with the devolved administrations, claimed Ms Sturgeon’s remarks in non-public typically had a ‘political complexion’.  

The minister denied that the Westminster authorities had additionally been taking part in politics, saying: ‘I feel a very powerful factor that we felt was to make sure that lives had been saved throughout the UK.’   

Regardless of repeatedly making an attempt to ‘gazump’ Westminster with bulletins throughout the pandemic, Ms Sturgeon was all the time adamant she had no intention of politicising it. 

Ms Sturgeon was exchanging messages with chief adviser Liz Lloyd on October 31, 2020 as Mr Johnson was announcing another national lockdown

Ms Sturgeon was exchanging messages with chief adviser Liz Lloyd on October 31, 2020 as Mr Johnson was asserting one other nationwide lockdown

On June 30, 2020 Ms Sturgeon advised a briefing on the raging disaster that anybody ‘trotting out political or constitutional arguments is within the mistaken place fully’.  

However data of a Scottish Cupboard assembly from the identical day, highlighted on the Covid Inquiry, confirmed it coated ‘restarting work on independence and a referendum’ and urged that arguments ought to ‘replicate the expertise of the coronavirus disaster’. 

WhatsApp messages between Ms Sturgeon and her then chief of workers Liz Lloyd additionally revealed they wished to start out a ‘good old school rammy’ with the UK authorities. 

How Nicola Sturgeon ‘gazumped’ her solution to a Covid help surge   

Nicola Sturgeon spent a lot of the preliminary part of the pandemic elbowing in on the prime desk of UK politics.

Taking full benefit of the devolved establishments having broad energy over well being insurance policies, the then-First Minister rapidly launched her personal TV briefings for Scotland.

As a result of these had been at lunchtime, it meant she was typically capable of pre-empt what the UK authorities was going to announce within the night.

She additionally steadily took a more durable line on insurance policies, pitting her strategy in opposition to that of Westminster, which was typically agonising about civil liberties.

Way back to April 2020 she used an look to declare that the lockdown would keep in place for ‘no less than’ one other three weeks – hours earlier than a crunch assembly of Cobra, the place the official choice was to be taken. 

Nicola Sturgeon spent much of the initial phase of the pandemic elbowing in at the top table of UK politics

Nicola Sturgeon spent a lot of the preliminary part of the pandemic elbowing in on the prime desk of UK politics 

The ‘gazumping’ additionally included bulletins on permitting a number of households to satisfy indoors. 

Ms Sturgeon was mentioned to have pressured the federal government into harder border restrictions in the course of 2020. 

Former well being secretary Matt Hancock has accused her of ‘bouncing’ the UK authorities into face masks guidelines.

He mentioned ministers had been ‘blindsided’ by her announcement in August 2020 and determined to U-turn to be able to keep away from ‘a giant spat with the Scots’. 

Ms Sturgeon additionally made nice play of sustaining stronger messaging when the Keep at Dwelling branding was dropped by Boris Johnson.

And weeks after the UK Authorities dropped its each day information briefings, Ms Sturgeon was nonetheless benefiting from each day publicity on tv. 

Whether or not intentional or not, the antics actually noticed a surge in help for independence. Backing for ‘sure’ reached 55 per cent in polls in the summertime of 2020.

However later within the pandemic a lot of the lustre got here off Ms Sturgeon’s efficiency, with the UK taking credit score for the vaccine drive and a extra well timed easing of lockdown

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