The Liberal Democrats are calling for a “four nations summit” to consider a united approach to keeping family gatherings safe during the festive season.
In a joint letter to the four governments of the UK, the leaders of the Liberal Democrats in Wales, Scotland and England, and the Deputy Leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, warned the “interlinked nature of life in the United Kingdom means no one government can devise guidance for the festive season in isolation.”
To allow travel to happen safely, the Liberal Democrat and Alliance politicians believe a “four nations summit” must agree:
- Uniform guidance for family gatherings.
- A common approach to student return and asymptomatic testing.
- Cooperative measures to expand transport over the Christmas period.
Cadan ap Tomos, the Welsh Liberal Democrats' Senedd candidate for Ceredigion, said:
"People across Ceredigion will be sorely hoping they can welcome family members home for Christmas, whether from elsewhere in Wales or further afield.
"Governments across the UK need to work together to enable families to reunite safely for the festive period, after what has been a tough year."
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds said:
"I cannot imagine a Christmas without spending it with the people I love. I am therefore pleased Liberal Democrat Education Secretary Kirsty Williams is bolstering mental health services and made students returning for Christmas a priority.
"While the priority must continue to be keeping people safe and ensuring no one is left behind, the four governments of the United Kingdom would do well to do all they can to bring some Christmas cheer to a tough year."
Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:
"No one country can manage this challenge in isolation. The fractured rules across the UK have already been incredibly difficult to piece together.
"We need a four nations summit to agree on one set of uniform guidance for Christmas that works for families across the UK. Ministers across Britain need to start work on it now."
The letter below was sent to the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, and to First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill.
The festive season is fast approaching. Families across the United Kingdom are now facing tough choices over whether to press ahead with plans for their usual festive gatherings.
With many families split across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, conflicting measures introduced by the respective governments of the UK nations could cause further confusion and complications.
This year has already seen Muslim communities across the country miss out on reuniting families for Eid al-Adha, with some communities impacted because of last-minute lockdown rules. After months apart, it was devastating news and we must learn from it.
We must accept the inevitability that people are going to travel to be with their loved ones during the festive time of year. The interlinked nature of life in the United Kingdom means no one government can devise this guidance in isolation.
It therefore falls on you and your counterparts to work across governments to explore workable solutions that can enable travel to happen safely.
To manage the implications for public health, we are urging you to hold a four nations summit to cooperate on students' return, to agree uniform guidance on the number of people who can gather and to explore how best to expand travel options to allow social distancing.
We look forward to your response.
Ed Davey MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Willie Rennie MSP
Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
Dr Stephen Farry MP
Deputy Leader of Alliance