Matt Hancock appears for second day of evidence to Covid inquiry – UK politics live | Politics – Freedom Voice


Matt Hancock’s evidence to the Covid inquiry resumes

The second day of the former health secretary Matt Hancock’s evidence to the Covid inquiry in London is under way.

It begins with questions about the tiered system during the second lockdown, when regions were subject to different restrictions.

He says:

My goal was to get R below 1 but I didn’t think the circuit breaker would work in practice.

He adds that it would have risked losing parliamentary and public support. He says those MPs campaigning against lockdown were “coordinating” and gaining momentum.

With hindsight, would it have been better to sit down with the scientists … that wasn’t how it progressed.

Key events

Regional mayors were under “political pressure” to reject the government’s lockdown measures, Matt Hancock told the Covid inquiry.

He said:

Local leadership had up to that point largely demonstrated they were under significant political pressure not to accept measures.

There were exceptions to this, for instance the mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, who unfortunately is not longer with us, was incredible supportive.

We ended up, in Liverpool, with a package of measures that was effective after a very constructive negotiation and discussion.

He added:

Others were not constructive and in some cases actively unhelpful and I felt put politics ahead of public health.

Matt Hancock’s evidence to the Covid inquiry resumes

The second day of the former health secretary Matt Hancock’s evidence to the Covid inquiry in London is under way.

It begins with questions about the tiered system during the second lockdown, when regions were subject to different restrictions.

He says:

My goal was to get R below 1 but I didn’t think the circuit breaker would work in practice.

He adds that it would have risked losing parliamentary and public support. He says those MPs campaigning against lockdown were “coordinating” and gaining momentum.

With hindsight, would it have been better to sit down with the scientists … that wasn’t how it progressed.

Rishi Sunak said he would issue renewed calls for “sustained humanitarian pauses” in Gaza as it emerged fighting had resumed there.

The prime minister said he would discuss the issue in meetings with regional leaders on the sidelines of the Cop28 climate talks when he was asked to react to news that the Israeli military had restarted fighting against Hamas.

He told broadcasters in Dubai:

Obviously this is news that has just broken in the past few minutes so I need to get into the details of it. It wouldn’t be right to speculate so early.

But I am having meetings with leaders from around the region in a matter of hours to discuss the situation.

We’ve been consistent that we want to see sustained humanitarian pauses so that more aid can get into the people of Gaza but also the hostages can come out. Those are critical ingredients. And, as we’ve said, everyone needs to adhere to the terms of these agreements.

Gordon Brown has said political briefings against Alistair Darling in 2008 were “completely unfair”, as he paid tribute to his former chancellor following his death aged 70.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the former prime minister said Darling was a “compassionate politician who wanted to get things done” but was “always very quiet in the way he did it”.

Darling remarked in 2010 that Brown’s No 10 had unleashed “the forces of hell” against him through negative briefings after he warned of a severe recession in 2008.

The former prime minister said one of the problems of government was that “you have lots of people said to be briefing on your behalf who you don’t even know the names of”.

Asked if he had apologised to Darling afterwards, Mr Brown said: “If there had been a briefing against him that was attributed to me, yes, of course. I mean that was completely unfair.”

Matt Hancock to give evidence for second day at Covid inquiry

Good morning and welcome to the UK politics live blog. I’m Tom Ambrose and I’ll be bringing you all the latest news from Westminster on this bitterly cold first day of December.

Stay tuned for the second day of Matt Hancock’s evidence to the Covid inquiry here in London. He began yesterday by saying that tens of thousands of lives could have been saved if the UK had locked down three weeks earlier.

The former health secretary said his staff were abused by Dominic Cummings and that Johnson’s then chief adviser attempted to exclude ministers and even Johnson himself from key decisions at the start of the pandemic, hampering the government’s response.

“It inculcated a culture of fear, whereas what we needed was a culture where everybody was brought to the table and given their heads to do their level best in a once-in-a-generation crisis,” said Hancock. “The way to lead in a crisis like this is to give people the confidence to do what they think needs to happen. And it caused the opposite of that.”

Hancock argued that in retrospect the ideal date for a first lockdown would have been three weeks earlier than the eventual date of 23 March 2020, saying this could have prevented about 90% of the death toll in the first Covid wave, or more than 30,000 lives.

His next round of evidence giving is due to begin at 10am and I will be bringing you all the latest from that – and any other breaking news stories from the world of UK politics – as it happens.

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