Thursday, 4 Mar 2021

Sturgeon shamed over vaccine failures as SNP leader scrambles to recruit British Army help

Nicola Sturgeon on military support in Scotland vaccine rollout

Nicola Sturgeon was repeatedly grilled on her admission that vaccine supply in Scotland was “patchy” amid a growing backlash over the SNP leader’s handling of the rollout. Ms Sturgeon has recruited the British Army’s support in order to establish 80 new mass vaccine centres in Scotland. There are concerns in Scotland about the slow pace of the rollout, as official figures suggested the rollout is far faster in England.

In the largest peacetime resilience operation ever undertaken by the British Armed Forces, 98 soldiers will support NHS Scotland over the next month.

During her coronavirus press briefing, Ms Sturgeon was questioned three times in a row by reporters on the “patchy supply” in vaccines throughout the nation.

She blamed the “different pace” seen across the UK’s nations on Scotland’s decision to start vaccinations in care homes.

The Scottish First Minister also attributed the slow rollout the “geography” of Scotland.

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The SNP leader added: “All nations in the UK are working to the same target.”

Ms Sturgeon insisted that the pace of vaccine delivery will pick up.

She also denied that she had “suddenly” decided to get the British army on board after the SNP leader was quizzed on “why they weren’t involved from the beginning”. 

However, Ms Sturgeon had faced demands over recent weeks to call in the military to speed up the rollout. 

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Last week, the Scottish First Minister rejected claims that her government was already falling behind England.

However, while 17 mass vaccination centres are open in England as of Monday, there is only one such centre opened in Scotland.

Sir Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, said more than half of people over 80 south of the Border had received their first dose.

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Last week, the SNP announced the creation of an “independence taskforce”.

Unionists claimed it showed the SNP was deeply “out of touch” given people’s concern about coronavirus, the vaccine rollout and economic recovery. 

MSP Anas Sarwar, who is standing to be Scottish Labour leader, said: “The SNP’s priorities are wrong.

“Right now, political leaders should be focused on the coronavirus crisis, the vaccination programme and creating stability for the people of Scotland.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, what is needed is a taskforce on jobs, health and education – not on independence.”

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, added: “Amid a public health pandemic when people are losing their lives and livelihoods, the idea that we need a taskforce on separation shows just how out of touch the SNP is.

“Imagine thinking that what we need right now is a taskforce focused on dividing communities and building borders, rather than bringing people together and rebuilding our country.

“The SNP is obsessed with how to tear families and friends apart, but we are stronger together as part of the UK and we can ensure a successful recovery by working together.”

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