Having previously approached The Leaders Council of Great Britain & Northern Ireland regarding his concerns over the longevity of the government’s Job Retention Scheme, managing director of Abril Industrial Waxes, Hugh McAulay, reacts to prime minister Boris Johnson’s provisional “roadmap” out of lockdown and discusses why divergence in the strategies of the UK’s four constituent countries may not be a good thing.
In McAulay’s view, an integral element of the prime minister’s address over the weekend was to convey the message that the country had to return to work, and it succeeded in doing that, yet there remains a painstaking process in bringing these plans into practice.
McAulay said: “I think I understood the main thrust of the prime minister’s statement and I understand that it is crucial that we get the country back to work.
“We understand from the address that not every premises can just return to full working but, where possible, measures should be put in place around travel, social distancing and personal protective equipment [PPE] to begin this difficult process.”
However, the main concern arising from the address for McAulay was the idea that the new changes are aimed solely at England, after Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon made very clear that she did not support the prime minister’s decision to diverge from the “stay at home” message that has underpinned the government’s lockdown strategy thus far.
McAulay added: “As a result of decisions taken by the various regional assemblies, we now have a clear divergence in regional strategy between Westminster for England and the other countries of the UK.
“At a time of national crisis, I am worried by this and by the different messages that are being communicated by the various governments.
“In some countries this can work very well, for example we can see the state system working well with central in Germany. However, in other nations such as the US, it is not working as effectively at all. Similarly in the UK, a lack of cohesion in the strategies of each country could hinder some sectors, given that restrictions may be in place in some parts of the country, whereas that may not be the case in others.”
McAulay is holding out hope for a national consensus, yet the message coming from the devolved governments is very much that each constituent country within the UK is likely to follow the strategy but lift different restrictions at different stages.
“As a Scotsman by birth and having now lived and worked in Wales for four years and in England for 25 years, I had hoped at a time of national crisis, we could all pull together and act as one coherent unit for the good of the whole country.
“For now, at least, this does not seem to be the case.”