Covid inquiry: Nicola Sturgeon branded Boris Johnson a ‘f****** clown’

Nicola Sturgeon branded Boris Johnson  a “f****** clown” in a string of furious messages sent to her closest aide while lockdown decisions were being made, the Covid-19 inquiry has revealed.

Ms Sturgeon and her chief of staff, Liz Lloyd, were discussing an announcement by the prime minister.

In October 2020, Ms Sturgeon criticised Mr Johnson’s decision to announce a fresh lockdown “between the rugby and [Strictly Come Dancing]”.

She told Ms Lloyd that Mr Johnson’s address to the nation was “f****** excruciating” and that the UK Government’s communications were “awful”.

“His utter incompetence in every sense is now offending me on behalf of politicians everywhere,” she added.

Screen grab from the UK Covid-19 Inquiry live stream of WhatsApp messages between Liz Lloyd and Nicola Sturgeon. Image: PA.

Ms Lloyd said she was “offended” on behalf of special advisers everywhere.

Ms Sturgeon replied: “He is a f****** clown.”

Ms Lloyd – who was the chief of staff to the first minister throughout the coronavirus pandemic until March 2021 – was giving evidence to the inquiry as it sits in Edinburgh.

In a seperate set of messages, she told Ms Sturgeon that she wanted a “good old-fashioned rammy” with the UK Government so she could “think about something other than sick people”.

Nicola Sturgeon was strongly critical of the then prime minister. Image: PA

Ms Lloyd explained how she had “set a timetable” for the UK Government to answer the Scottish Government on furlough as a “purely political” move.

Sturgeon replied saying: “Yeah, I get it. And it might be worth doing. I’ve sent a rough formulation of what I might say tomorrow.”

Asked about the messages by junior counsel to the inquiry Usman Tariq, Ms Lloyd said she was looking for a “spat with a purpose.”.

FM’s chief aide ‘wanted rammy with UK Government’

She said: “It had been shown in the past that they would sometimes change their mind if they felt that pressure and I wanted them to change their mind.”

Handwritten notes shown earlier in evidence showed Ms Lloyd suggesting a possible strategy of “calling for things” that the Scottish Government could not do to “force the UK Government to do things”.

She was also pressed on whether the relationship between the then first minister and then prime minister had “broken down”.

She said:” That overstates what was there to break.”

She said of Boris Johnson: “He didn’t want to be on those calls, he wasn’t well briefed, he wasn’t listening, engagement with him became slightly pointless.

“They didn’t get us anywhere. We started with the approach we should work together, in co-ordinated fashion, but a substantive discussion isn’t what we got.

“The prime minister was reading a script and would largely ignore points made.”

She said Ms Sturgeon’s strong language showed her “frustration” towards Mr Johnson.


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