16 April 2020

Matt Hancock loses temper in fiery interview as he's quizzed over lockdown exit

Health Secretary Matt Hancock had a busy - and somewhat bad tempered - series of interviews today as he attempted to explain the Government's proposals on ending the lockdown.

Firstly he angrily told the BBC's Nick Robinson to let him finish during an interview on the Today programme.

Robinson was asking Hancock about the mixed messages the public were receiving about the length of isolation - after Hancock's health minister Nadine Norris told people to stop asking about the exit plan.

Hancock replied: “The thing is this, Nick, and this is a really really important point.

“How we communicate as a Government, as ministers, has a direct impact on the amount of cases that we have and therefore the amount of people who die.

“Because the clarity of messaging that people need to stay at home because that protects the NHS - because as you said in the intro we have this core goal to make sure the NHS isn’t overwhelmed, which everybody a month ago was telling me it was impossible to achieve and that has been achieved thus far - that core messaging has a direct impact on how many people follow the guidelines…"

As Robinson attempted to interrupt Hancock to ask a follow-up question, the Health Secretary snapped: “Let me, please, let me finish this answer!”

In a round of broadcast interviews, Mr Hancock insisted it was 'too early' for an exit strategy.  

Mr Hancock said he did not want to 'waste' the efforts of the public by lifting the lockdown measures prematurely, because coronavirus would 'run rampant once again'.

"I'm not going to pre-judge the formal decision that is going to be taken, however, I think everybody can see that we've been clear that we think that it is too early to make a change," he told BBC Breakfast.

"And whilst we have seen a flattening of the number of cases, and thankfully a flattening of the number of deaths, that hasn't started to come down yet, and as far as I'm concerned is still far too high."

He added: "I understand those who are calling for an end to the lockdown or some kind of exit strategy to start now, but I think it's just too early for that."

And asked about comments from Nadine Dorries, he told Good Morning Britain that it is 'far too early' for things to return to normal.

"What Nadine is saying is that this talk about an exit strategy, with the idea that we go immediately back to exactly how things were before, it is far too early for that," he said.

GMB host Piers Morgan then resurrected Mr Hancock's challenge to Premier League foootballers to take a pay cut.

Morgan asked him whether he would take a pay cut like he suggested Premier League footballers should do.

The Health Secretary replied: "I'm not proposing to do that, what I am proposing to do is work every hour."

Morgan then interrupted him and said Hancock 'scewered' footballers when there are multi-millionaires in the cabinet.

To which Hancock replied: "The point with the footballers is that, I was asked a question about footballers and I answered it."

Mr Hancock's mood did not go unnoticed. Labour MP Diane Abbott tweeted: “So Matt Hancock loses his temper on BBCr4today just now. Maybe he is upset that all his misrepresentations are catching up with him.”

It is expected ministers will extend the lockdown for three weeks in an announcement later today.

The Government has come under fire from Labour leader Keir Starmer for failing so far to publish an exit strategy for lockdown.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox