Dominic Cummings has accused Nicola Sturgeon of undermining the Covid response by “babbling” about private discussions at Cobra meetings.
In evidence to the House of Commons science committee, he said: “As soon as you had these meetings Nicola Sturgeon would just go straight out announce what she wanted straight afterwards.
“So you had these completely Potemkin meetings without anyone actually digging into the reality in detail, because everybody thought as soon as the meeting is finish everyone’s going to just pop up on TV and start babbling.”
Mr Cummings also suggested the views of Ms Sturgeon and other devolved leaders on the pandemic were not considered by Downing Street.
He said: “I can’t really say if they were well listened to or not, I can’t really remember what they were saying and I can’t really remember much of the discussion around that.”
The comments came as Boris Johnson cancelled a virtual coronavirus “summit” with the devolved leaders after it was branded a “PR exercise”.
The prime minister invited the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish leaders to a meeting tomorrow to discuss the “shared challenges” facing the UK after the pandemic.
But the meeting was pulled this afternoon in response to a joint letter signed by Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford.
The letter stated: “We are writing about the proposed 4-nations summit on Covid recovery, which you have suggested should take place this Thursday afternoon.
“We are both deeply committed to taking part in such a summit and to working appropriately together on Covid Recovery – but, as we are sure you do, we want the meeting to be a meaningful discussion with substantive outcomes, and not just a PR exercise.
“Our view is that this will be best achieved if further detailed preparation is done in advance.”
It added: “Further discussion between our officials, leading to the summit taking place on an agreed date, perhaps as early as next week, would allow for a much more meaningful exercise, and avoid the risk of it being just a PR or box-ticking exercise.”
Number 10 confirmed the meeting had been cancelled this afternoon, a spokesman added: “It is disappointing that the Scottish Government feel the need to delay this meeting so they have more time to prepare.”
Asked whether it would be rescheduled, the prime minister’s spokesman said: “The PM is keen to speak to the first ministers about our recovery, we want to do that as soon as possible but we don’t have a date set.
“We want to work with them to find a new date to schedule this.”
The meeting would have been the first time the leaders have met since the May 6 elections, in which the SNP won a historic fourth Holyrood term.