Wales could be the decisive factor in the political battle between Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer

There is now a genuine divergence in policy, rather than simply in tone and candour, between England and the devolved parliaments. 

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Stop me if you've heard this one before: Sage is calling for an England-wide lockdown to curb the rising number of coronavirus cases, while a growing number of Conservative MPs are demanding the government lays out its exit strategy for the system of regional lockdowns. 

It's the same story we've had since the summer: the government is divided between deficit devotees (who fear the economic cost of continuing lockdowns) and lockdown advocates (who fear the health cost of an uncontrolled outbreak). The Prime Minister has found a “middle way”, which in practice consists of tilting one way until the warning lights flash red, then tilting wildly in the other. 

The big political difference is that for the first time, there is a genuine divergence in policy, rather than simply in tone and candour, between England and the devolved parliaments, Wales in particular.

Yes, Keir Starmer has put clear red water between him and Boris Johnson for the first time with his call for a circuit break, but it is the real and tangible difference in approach between Conservative England and Labour Wales that, one way or another, could prove decisive in terms of the political battle between Johnson and Starmer.

Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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