On Friday, the Minister of Health held crisis meetings with Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Rishi Sunak, which were followed by a leak of details the next day (Photo: PA).
Matt Hancock is one of three cabinet ministers investigating the leak, after England reportedly quickly announced the blockade when details were released to the press.
An extraordinary investigation is under way to find out who allowed the newspapers to reveal the details of the new plan before the ministers were aware of it. Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove denied the plans this morning after meetings with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Minister Matt Hancock on Friday.
The Times, the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph gave a number of details about Saturday’s announcement, including holding a press conference on Monday. But today the criticism is that the leaks are forcing the Prime Minister to approve the decision and inform the country earlier than expected.
According to the police, the leak has put extra pressure on the emergency services.
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Mr Hancock would be in favour of these restrictions, while Mr Sunak would be more concerned about their impact on the economy.
After the briefings received a lot of criticism from parliamentarians, companies, public sector executives and social media users, Johnson started an investigation to find the culprit.
To Andrew Marr’s direct question as to whether he had passed on the information, Mr Goat answered no. And to the question whether he knew who had fled in a small circle of cabinets after the crisis summit, he answered again: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Mr. Hancock’s team did not respond immediately to Metro.co.uk’s request for a response.
Michael Gove denies to be the cause of these leaks (Photo: REX).
Alastair Campbell, former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s communications officer, Twitter: Hey, Matt Hancock.
I saw your warm tweets about the other visitors at Friday’s meeting. I assume you know what they tell everyone who’s listening that you’re the leak?
Backbench Conservatives were outraged that the media had taken note of the new blockade before Mr Johnson made a statement to Parliament.
In a WhatsApp report seen by the PA press agency, the Prime Minister wrote to Conservative MPs to apologise and reassure them that Downing Street had failed to inform reporters of Friday’s actions.
He wrote: I can assure you that the leak wasn’t briefing number ten and that we’ve launched an investigation to catch the perpetrator.
Hi @MattHancock I noticed your warm tweets about the other visitors to Friday’s meeting I think you know the source of the leak is someone listening to you? https://t.co/hE98LBdT1q.
– ALASTER CAMPBELL (@ Campbell Clarrett) 1. November 2020.
Please inform these election media of possible national isolation so that they understand its consequences. This leads to media madness, creates confusion and incites some to use the time before the blockade for an official announcement. It’s not a good mix!
– John Epter (@PFEW_Chairman) 31. October 2020
This came after Saturday evening’s press conference was repeatedly postponed because the prime minister, apparently in haste, announced a new national blockade, which took effect on Thursday for at least a month.
The president of the police association, John Epter, has tweeted that the leak could put more pressure on 999 departments: We ask those who inform the selected media about a possible national isolation to understand the implications of this situation.
This leads to media madness, creates confusion and incites some to use the time before the blockade for an official announcement. It’s a bad mix!
It is not the first time that during a pandemic there has been criticism of reports and leaks from governments.
In September, the Speaker of the House of Commons accused Mr Hancock of misleading Parliament without giving Parliament the details of the changes in media restrictions.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle told the members: I acknowledge that the decisions have been taken in a rapidly changing situation, but ministers know the timing of the statements.
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