A JOINT summit is needed to keep families safe and together this Christmas, the Liberal Democrats have urged.

The party has called for a “four nations summit” between Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales to discuss nationwide advice for over the festive season.

In a joint letter to the four governments of the UK, Lib Dem leader Ed Davey, Scottish leader Willie Rennie and Welsh leader Jane Dodds, along with leader of Northern Ireland’s Alliance Party Stephen Farry, have warned the “interlinked nature of life in the United Kingdom means no one government can devise guidance for the festive season in isolation.”

It comes after Scotland’s clinical director Jason Leitch said Scots should prepare for a “digital Christmas” last week, prompting outrage.

Professor Leitch also said multi-household gatherings in Scotland were “fiction”, however Boris Johnson has suggested restrictions could be relaxed in England.

The politicians have written to the Prime Minister and Nicola Sturgeon, as well as the leaders in Wales and Northern Ireland, asking for a joint meeting to agree on uniform guidance for family gatherings, guidance on students returning home and testing, and cooperative measures to expand transport over Christmas.

They said the different measures across the UK have already made it difficult for people to understand, and they must start working on solutions for the festive period now.

The letter also cites the difficulties faced by Muslims over Eid, when many families had to cancel celebrations at the last minute due to changes in lockdown rules.

Mr Rennie said: “The countries across these isles are knitted closely together. Many families are split across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and inevitably want to be together for Christmas.

“Leaders need to embrace the inevitability that people are going to travel to be with their loved ones at Christmas. They must explore workable solutions to ensure that can happen safely.”

Ed Davey added: “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.”

Their letter states: "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."

It added: "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."