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Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2019. Alamy
Edinburgh

Ex-Scottish PM Nicola Sturgeon called Boris Johnson a 'f**king clown', UK Covid inquiry hears

Sturgeon’s former chief of staff said the comments related to the UK government’s communication strategy.

THE BRITISH INQUIRY into the country’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has heard the former Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon called Boris Johnson a “f**king clown”.

During the inquiry today, text messages between Sturgeon and her chief of staff were shown and read aloud during proceedings.

The exchange between the pair took place while former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was announcing country was going into another lockdown on Halloween night in 2020.

The conversation criticises the Johnson government’s communication strategy – for making the announcement “15 minutes between the rugby and strictly [Come Dancing]“.

Sturgeon described the announcement as “offending”.

Sturgeon said: “There comms are behind [sic.] awful. We’re not perfect but we don’t get nearly enough credit for how much better we are than them [...].”

“This is f**king excruciating- there comms are AWFUL,” a second reply from Sturgeon said.

“His (Johnson’s) utter incompetence in every sense is offending me on behalf of politicians everywhere,” she added.

Lloyd replied that her and two other government aides had also thought the communication was ineffective and offensive, in a separate WhatsApp group chat.

“He’s a f**king clown,” Sturgeon promptly replied.

The Times and The Sunday Times / YouTube

Giving evidence to the inquiry, currently sitting in Edinburgh, Lloyd was asked if the exchange showed there was a “perception amongst Sturgeon and the wider Scottish Government that it was doing so much better than the UK Government in the pandemic response around this time”.

She told junior counsel to the inquiry Usman Tariq the messages mentioned related “specifically to the communications aspect of the response”.

Lloyd said: “That is sometimes dismissed but communications is very important in a public health situation, people need to know what to do and why and to understand it and to trust in it.”

She claimed that day had been “quite shambolic in the UK Government”, and she highlighted “the sort of chaos that appeared around some of the decisions they took”.

Lloyd concluded: “We were clearly not very complimentary about their communications handling that day.”

Includes reporting by Press Association

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