Politics

Scotland must pay for free testing Boris Johnson says as he is accused of sacrificing public health for Tory support



Boris Johnson has been accused of sacrificing public health “to save his own skin” by cutting funding for free covid testing.

The Prime Minister signalled that the Scottish government would have to self-fund mass free lateral flow tests after April as he announced the winding down of test and trace in England.

After criticism from Nicola Sturgeon and the Welsh First Minister, Johnson said that devolved nations would have to find cash from their own budgets if they wanted to carry on with LFTs.

He was confronted in the Commons by SNP leader Ian Blackford, who said the reality of devolution meant decisions made for England affected the money available to save lives in Scotland.

Blackford said: “It is unacceptable that the ability to protect our population can be imperilled on the basis of a political decision taken by a Prime Minister in crisis. His decisions directly affect the funding Scotland has to to keep people safe.”

The SNP Westminster leader added: “This is a Prime Minister who has no moral authority to lead, desperately seeking to appease his has backbenchers.

“This statement is not about protecting the public it is about the Prime Minister scrambling to save his own skin.”

But Johnson point blank refused to give ground.

He told Blackford that testing would be free until April but after that the devolved nations were on their own.

Johnson said: “Of course, if people want to continue beyond then…then he has Mr Speaker access to the £41 billion record settlement under Barnett and he also has access to hundreds of millions from the health care levy which he voted against.”

Johnson’s Living with Covid plan includes ending self-isolation for people who test positive in England.

From Thursday, subject to Parliament’s approval, the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test will be removed in England.

However, adults and children who test positive will continue to be advised to stay at home and to isolate.

Vaccinated contacts of people who test positive will no longer be asked to test for seven days.

The legal requirement for close contacts who are not vaccinated to self-isolate will also go.

There will also be an end to self-isolation payments and some of the practical support that goes along with that and for the legal obligation for people to tell their employers when they are required to self-isolate.

Councils in England will lose powers to shut down areas where there have been big Covid outbreaks.

On March 24, the Government will remove the Covid provisions on statutory sick pay and Employment Support Allowance.

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