Michael Gove: SNP wants ‘political points’ from Covid
However, he denied that the UK Government was also trying to score political points in favor of the unionist cause during the pandemic.
Gove – who has been described as a “conduit” for discussions between the UK and devolved governments related to the response to Covid – insisted that relations are not clouded by constitutional disagreements “on a practical day-to-day basis pandemic response business.” and “mostly beneficial”.
He insisted that the “differences of opinion” on the “day-to-day management” of the pandemic are not different between the central German government and the various regional administrations within Germany’s federal structure.
Mr Gove rejected the suggestion by Jamie Dawson KC, Scotland’s lead inquiry counsel, that Scottish ministers attending the meetings in the four countries “felt strongly that the decisions had been made by the UK Government and that they were only invited to speak. what those decisions were.”
He said: “I don’t think the actual evidence justifies that … it is the case at various points that the Scottish Government and indeed other devolved administrations have chosen a different path.
“My view is – and I think it’s fair to see most of those working in devolved countries – that effective coordination and an integrated approach is possible if desired.”
He said: “While I have great respect for the integrity and professionalism of Scottish ministers when it comes to managing individual choices in the pandemic, we must remember that the SNP’s political goal is to destroy the United Kingdom and from time to time . until such time they make political points to that end.”
Scottish independence is the SNP’s “political mission”, added Mr Gove.
“It would be naive not to know that seasoned politicians including those at the top of the government may see what they think is a political advantage at some point,” he said.
In his written statement to the inquiry, Mr Gove described Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson as “not soulmates” but insisted they could “coordinate effectively on substantive policy”.
Mr Dawson asked if the description that Mr Johnson and Ms Sturgeon were “not soulmates” was “something off”.
Mr Gove said: “Humility is sometimes the most effective form of communication.”
Dawson asked: “Is it fair to say they never got on?”
Gove said: “No, I think at one level they are very different numbers.
“On another level, they are both skilled politicians fueled by love but they are also people who know in times of crisis the importance of being as respectful as possible and cooperating as much as possible, respecting each other’s positions and cooperation.”