Ex-Minister Matt Hancock’s Leaked Texts Lift the Veil on U.K. Covid Policy


Mr. Hancock’s messages present an on-the-make politician who as soon as hoped that the pandemic may vault his profession to the following stage. When a London paper printed a plan to chop the approval time for a vaccine, he texted an aide, “I CALLED FOR THIS TWO MONTHS AGO. It is a Hancock triumph!”

But at different instances, Mr. Hancock appeared a decided policymaker, battling ministers who he believed have been prioritizing the economic system over public well being. When Alok Sharma, who served as enterprise secretary, proposed loosening the test-and-trace necessities for diners at eating places, Mr. Hancock texted the cupboard secretary, Simon Case, to say that he couldn’t perceive “why Alok is in opposition to controlling the virus. Unusual strategy.”

“Pure Conservative ideology,” Mr. Case replied in a remark that drew hearth from critics who stated that it was improperly partisan for a civil servant. Mr. Case, who was appointed by Mr. Johnson, can be in scorching water for arguing that trusted native officers, not the prime minister — whom he deemed untrustworthy — ought to roll out new pointers.

In his assertion, Mr. Hancock expressed chagrin in regards to the embarrassment the leaks have been inflicting his former colleagues. He stated that he labored with Ms. Oakeshott for greater than a yr on the ebook, which was printed final December and which drew closely from the WhatsApp messages, in addition to from different sources.

He claimed that she had damaged a confidentiality settlement in publishing the texts and had distorted them by not offering context. “Releasing them on this manner offers a partial, biased account to swimsuit an anti-lockdown agenda,” he stated.

Ms. Oakeshott, a former political editor of The Sunday Occasions, didn’t deny breaching a authorized settlement. However she stated that she had been keen to take that threat and denied that The Telegraph, which has editorialized in opposition to lockdowns, was publishing them selectively. Editors, she stated, had assigned eight individuals to comb by way of 2.3 million phrases of texts, 4 instances the size of Tolstoy’s “Battle and Peace.”

“The paper has been terribly cautious to not cherry-pick bits of dialog,” she famous. “The crew has been meticulous in regards to the course of.”

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