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Good morning. Today will be dominated by Matt Hancock, the health secretary, responding to the multiple criticisms of him made by Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s former chief adviser, in his select committee evidence yesterday – Hancock is in the Commons this morning, and holding a press conference this afternoon – but Cummings did not just criticise Hancock, and it is for the government as a whole to respond too.
Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, was doing the morning interview round and he made it clear that the government is taking a dual-pronged approach. Broadly, it is not going to engage with Cummings, Jenrick implied, because he said the government wanted to wait until the inquiry, which is not due to start until next year. Jenrick said:
The last year has been uniquely challenging and difficult for everyone in ways, but very, very profoundly difficult for those people who’ve lost loved ones and they are right to seek answers and explanations. That’s why we’re having the full public inquiry next year.
I think that is the right moment to consider these things in a calm and reflective manner with all of the evidence.
But ministers are responding to some of Cummings’ allegations and Jenrick said he did not believe probably the most damning one of all – that “tens of thousands of people died who didn’t need to die”. Asked if Cummings was wrong to make this claim, Jenrick replied:
Yes, I think it is because you have to remember that we didn’t have all of the facts at the time that the decisions were being taken. Nobody could doubt for one moment that the prime minister was doing anything other than acting with the best of motives, with the information and the advice that was available to him … At the very beginning of the pandemic we didn’t know much about this new virus.
I will post more from Jenrick’s interviews shortly.
Here is the agenda for the day.
10am: Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, gives a speech on transport policy.
10.30am: Matt Hancock, the health secretary, answers a Commons urgent question about his department’s handling of Covid.
12pm: Downing Street is expected to hold its daily lobby briefing.
2pm: Public Health England publishes its weekly Covid surveillance report.
2.30pm: Sir Tom Scholar, the Treasury permanent secretary, gives evidence to the Commons Treasury committee about Greensill Capital; at 4pm Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, will give evidence.
2.30pm: Tony Sewell, chair of the commission on race and ethnic disparities, gives evidence to the Commons women and equalities committee.
3.30pm: Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, gives evidence to the public administration and constitutional affairs committee about Covid-status certification.
5pm: Hancock holds a press conference.
And Boris Johnson is doing a visit this morning, where he is expected to record a short TV interview.
Politics Live has been a mix of Covid and non-Covid politics recently, but today I expect to be focusing mostly on Hancock, and other reaction to Cummings’ evidence yesterday. For global Covid developments, do read our global live blog.
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Source: The Guardian
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