As healthcare is a devolved matter in the UK, the Scottish government is broadly responsible for the Scottish response to the pandemic, while the UK government is chiefly responsible for the response in England. Further powers were granted to the devolved administrations by the Coronavirus Act 2020.

According to a YouGov poll published in May, 74% of Scots think that the Scottish government is handling coronavirus well. Notably, this included 70% of 2019 Scottish Tory voters.

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This appears to have remained the case a month later - despite approval of the UK government's handling of coronavirus sinking to a new low point on June 3rd, a large majority (44%) of GB adults said that they felt that the Scottish government had handled the pandemic better than the UK government (14%).

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What differences exist between the two government's responses to the pandemic that have served to cause such a difference of opinion of their handling of the crisis?

1 Answer 1


An example of a difference is that Scotland, and the other devolved parliaments, declined to ease the lockdown measures when Johnson announced that.

The first article I found when I searched for stories about that is from Press and Journal which seems to be a Scottish newspaper. https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/politics/scottish-politics/2227436/coronavirus-nicola-sturgeon-says-scotland-will-not-follow-englands-easing-of-shielding-rules/

There was widespread criticism of the initial response from Westminster. Dominic Cummings' trip and Johnson's failure to do anything about it brought more criticism, even from usually staunch Tory supporters like the Daily Mail. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/may/25/daily-mail-cummings-challenge-uk-pm-conservative-newspaper-boris-johnson

A Scottish Convervative MP resigned from his position as a junior minister over the issue : - https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/douglas-ross-scottish-tory-mp-resigns-over-trouble-dominic-cummings-lockdown-trip-2864455

Scotland's Chief Medical Officer was also caught breaking the lockdown rules and resigned in contrast to the general line from the Conservatives that Cummings did nothing wrong based on what many saw as spurious and convenient justifications. https://www.euronews.com/2020/04/06/coronavirus-scotland-s-chief-medical-officer-resigns-after-breaking-lockdown-rules

Finally, the announcement of easing restrictions was seen by some to primarily serve to distract people from the Cummings issue and when Scotland immediately declined to follow suit those who were suspicious of Westminster's timing likely saw Scotland as prioritising public health over political maneuvering. https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/top-stories/lockdown-announcement-to-distract-public-from-dominic-cummings-1-6676741

All this is just one issue really. There are likely other differences that people closer to Scotland can list. All the links here are the first ones I found, I'm sure there are better articles out there.

  • "A Scottish Convervative MP resigned over the issue" Douglas Ross resigned from a junior ministerial position, he remains an MP. I know the wording is taken from the headline, but it is a fairly important distinction as it means the impact on the Conservative government majority is nil.
    – Jontia
    Commented Jun 12, 2020 at 8:04

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