Mark Drakeford believed the UK government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic was a threat to the future of the union, an inquiry has been told.

Jane Runeckles, the Welsh First Minister’s most senior adviser, told the UK Covid-19 Inquiry that it was felt that the actions of Boris Johnson’s government could lead to a breakdown of the UK.

Speaking at the inquiry on Thursday, the senior special advisor said: “I believe that the First Minister had a genuine, sincerely held concern that some of the actions of the UK government in relation to the way they had handled some of the earlier period was a genuine threat to the future of the UK.”

Contact between Mr Johnson and Mr Drakeford was described as “infrequent”, which led to divergence in policy between the four nations of the UK.


Mr Johnson said in previous evidence to the inquiry that he had deliberately not met the first ministers of the devolved nations to avoid giving the impression that the UK was a federalised country.

READ MORE: Conservative outcry after Drakeford calls Johnson "awful"

Ms Runeckles said: “The tensions between the actions taken by the Welsh government and the actions taken by the UK government became more and more obvious, and once we reached the point through the beginning of May, the fact that the Welsh government were taking decisions in a different way to the UK government just meant that there was very little for us to talk about.”

She said she and Mr Drakeford initially felt that a four-nation approach was preferable.

However, she said the UK government’s communication was poor, particularly surrounding Civil Contingencies Committee (Cobra) meetings, with agendas sometimes not published until 10 to 15 minutes before they began, and described the contact between the authorities as “sporadic”.

The inquiry also heard that Mr Drakeford had been “shocked” that a testing centre had been set up in Wales without the Welsh government or Public Health Wales being informed.