As we approach Christmas, governments around the world are wrestling with the approach they should take the deal with the Omicron variant.

They will have lots of scientific evidence and modelling but the reality is that nobody can be completely sure how the virus will behave in the future. Decision makers will naturally want to keep the economy as open as possible while at the same time protecting public health.

It's not an easy balance but it's one that has to be struck on the basis of evidence and expert prediction.

READ MORE: Mark Drakeford announces new restrictions from Boxing Day

In England though, it now seems these decisions are taken entirely according to what might work for a minority of Conservative MPs. It's quite clear that the current UK government is very divided. Just recently we've seen a Cabinet meeting where Ministers were arguing amongst themselves. While it’s right that there is debate over the evidence, what cannot be right is that decisions are taken not according to that evidence but according to what is politically convenient for a minority of people.

This however seems to be typical of the direction the UK government is taking. Nearly 100 MPs rebelled against the Prime Minister a few weeks ago, something that would have been unthinkable even a month or so back and it's a sure sign of a lack of authority on his part. Now it's possible to make lots of political points about this but my concern is what it means for the governance of the UK and in particular, the way in which the fight against the virus will be dealt with in the future.

While the Welsh Government has many powers to deal with Omicron, what it cannot practically do is close the border with England nor can it provide the kind of funds that would be needed if there were to be any further restrictions on the economy. The reality is that most of the money needed for the furlough scheme and for much of the economic support in the past has come from the UK Government. But here’s the unfairness. If Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland decide to restrict some economic activity, the UK Treasury won't provide the funds to help businesses. If England takes the same action then the money flows. We now have a situation where the UK Treasury is in reality the treasury for England.

READ MORE: Welsh Government should be able to launch furlough says report

There is a deeper political move here though on behalf of the minority within the Conservative party. There are many who were elected in 2019 believing in a low tax and low regulation state which ultimately, I believe, would lead to the ending of the NHS. But that's not what the people in the so-called Red Wall voted for nor is it the view of the majority of the people of this country.

But just as Brexit was hijacked by those who wanted the hardest possible solution to the problem, so now it appears that those same people are trying to ditch the idea of levelling up to go back to the days of Thatcherism or worse. That is just not where the majority of people are at.

The National Wales: David Frost cited the ‘current direction of travel’ for the Government and plans to bring in further Covid restrictions as reasons for his resignation. Photo: PADavid Frost cited the ‘current direction of travel’ for the Government and plans to bring in further Covid restrictions as reasons for his resignation. Photo: PA

We saw this encapsulated this week in the resignation of David Frost. He resigned, he said, because he felt the Prime Minister was in effect too left wing for him. You might remember that David Frost is a previous Remainer turned Brexiteer who also now seems to advocate a lightly-policed, free market post-Brexit that discounts any notion of government intervention through the tax system to reduce inequality or improve fairness in society. Better businesses should be able to do what they want without any serious regulation. That is in nobody's interests, least of all businesses themselves.

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What I thought was interesting about the exchange of letters between David Frost and Boris Johnson was the implied insults contained in them. Frost wrote to Boris Johnson with the phrase “Dear Boris”. Anybody involved in government knows the proper beginning to such a letter is “Dear Prime Minister”.

I saw that as a calculated insult to Boris Johnson. All this from somebody who was supposed to be Boris Johnson’s close ally! Small things perhaps but indicative of the kind of tensions that exist within the current Conservative party between those who actually want to win their seats next time around and those who want to embark on some strange free market economic experiment where there are very few rules for those with the most money. It’s the latter direction that has the most sway in the divided Conservative Party now. The sensible ones have gone; the dogmatists have taken over.

Time will tell as to which of those factions wins out but in the meantime,  may I wish you all the best Christmas possible and let's hope for a better, more sensible, and above all, Covid-free New Year.

Nadolig Llawen bawb!

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