BBC Scotland and the Herald, predictably, leaped gleefully on the apparent rebuttal of the story that UK PPE suppliers were refusing to deliver to Scottish care homes because English ones had the greater need, but before they could sit down, everything changed again.
In the morning Jason Leitch had provided them with the headline they so wanted but by midday his boss, the FM, was saying something quite different. She said they would be investigating the claims and, ominously:
‘Any situation where supplies were being diverted from one part of the UK to the other without consultation or any sense of co-operation would clearly be unconscionable and unacceptable.’
Remembering the words of Dominic Raab, yesterday, reassuring his English audience that his government was doing its best to make sure that, explicitly English care homes, were getting the equipment they needed, I smelled the casual contempt.
At the time, all we had were Dr Macaskill’s words but we now have more, much more.
First, the First Minister clearly knows that Leitch spoke too soon. She knows something.
Second, Matt Hancock has cancelled his meeting with Jeane Freeman, with no explanation, after she messaged him to warn him that he could not unilaterally divert supplies of this kind as there is a UK-wide agreement.
Third, we have the horrific tsunami of death in the latest ONS statistics for England and Wales, for just last week. Raab and Hancock knew these were coming and like the Tory schoolboys they are, they panicked and reverted to the bullying they remember from their schooldays.
Fourth, we have this astonishing revelation in the Times at 12 noon today:
Major manufacturers of personal protective equipment (PPE) are refusing to send supplies to Scotland because they are prioritising England. The global supply chain is under severe pressure as countries try to protect their frontline health and care workers during the pandemic. Gompels, which is based in Melksham, Wiltshire, has said that it will not supply Scotland or Wales under a contract that it holds with Public Health England. “You must be registered and operating within England — apologies to Wales and Scotland, we are told you have different processes for getting emergency supplies,” its website states.
The First Minister’s advisors will have told her about this just before she came on at 12.30.
And fifth we have Hancock agreeing to change his ‘plans.’