Working to make government more effective

Online event

Coronavirus and UK devolution

Did coronavirus demonstrate the strength of devolution – or does it highlight the need for central government to take a strong lead?

Listen to the event

Coronavirus is a global public health emergency of unprecedented scale. The response to Covid-19 has required action by both national and devolved governments, acting separately and together. The early phase of the pandemic has seen an intense level of cooperation between Westminster and the devolved administrations but there are emerging signs of political tensions, policy differences, and confused public messaging.

So how well is this working? Do policy differences matter, or do they reflect legitimate political choices and varying circumstances? Is coronavirus demonstrating the strength of devolution – and the ability of the four governments jointly to rise to this challenge – or does it highlight the need for central government to take a strong lead? Do the devolved governments have the necessary powers and resources to address the problems? What can we learn from cooperation in past crises? And what does all this mean for the Union and the debates around Scottish independence and Irish reunification?

Our panellists from the three devolved nations to discuss these issues, included:

  • Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, former First Minister of Wales
  • Rt Hon Lord Dunlop, former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland and Northern Ireland
  • Professor Nicola McEwen, Professor of Territorial Politics at the University of Edinburgh
  • Dr Katy Hayward, Reader in Sociology at Queen’s University Belfast

The event was chaired by Akash Paun, Senior Fellow at the Institute.


Related content

08 FEB 2024 Insight paper

The Union and the state

Whether the UK survives in its current form or what it will look like if it doesn’t stay together, will hinge on which vision prevails.