4 March 2023
Day four of the lockdown files and it’s the juiciest so far. Here’s what the Telegraph released last night:
1. Matt Hancock thought kissing report wasn’t that bad
While cursing ‘that f——n CCTV camera’, the indefatigable Hancock said ‘that [the Sun’s] write up is very gentle’, after the paper released pictures of him and Gina Coladangelo in a rule-breaking embrace.
Hancock then set up a WhatsApp group called ‘Crisis Management’ with his media adviser Damon Poole and his lover Coladangelo. He said that he ‘need[ed] to find a clinician’ to say that he broke guidance, not guidelines. ‘PLEASE STAND THIS UP’, he wailed to his advisers.
Upon being shown the video of him kissing, his reaction was ‘crikey… I can’t say it’s very enjoyable viewing’. All sordid stuff, but one line takes the biscuit: ‘I could apologise for the whole thing – I have after all cheated on my wife.’
2. Hancock sent his resignation letter to George Osborne
Former boss George Osborne had to remind Hancock he should apologise to his family in his resignation statement. He also warned him against saying he ‘loved’ Gina.
3. Simon Case said Rishi Sunak was ‘going bonkers’
It’s going to be an awkward one on Monday for Case. After government advice switched from telling businesses they can keep customers’ details for contact tracing, to telling them they should, the Cabinet Secretary was bemused by some ministers’ opposition. Then chancellor Rishi Sunak and then business secretary Alok Sharma were hesitant, which Case told Hancock was ‘pure Conservative ideology’. Case said that Sunak was ‘going bonkers’ about the measures too.
4. Hancock suggested Sunak was pitching to the ‘hard right’
A man even more bemused by any opposition was Hancock himself. ‘What’s Rishi’s dilemma?’, he says, ‘whether to stop the virus, or tilt at the party and show ankle to the hard right?’
5. Hancock called Steve Barclay a ‘w——’
Hancock was exasperated at a Telegraph story which said Sunak wanted ministers to get a grip on spending. Hancock tutted at Sunak and Steve Barclay, then chief secretary to the Treasury ‘trying to be all clever about spending control’. What nutters, right?
6. Eat Out to Help Out caused ‘problems’
Hancock told Simon Case that Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme was ‘causing problems in our jntervention [sic] areas’. Still, it appears there were some silver linings for the then Health Secretary. Case asked Hancock if he’d been out for dinner, who replied ‘yes it was a joy using it and being thanked by the other diners!’
7. Hancock’s friend told him Covid could propel him ‘into the next league’ in the early weeks
Hancock approvingly shared a message from a friend with his adviser on 29 January 2020, just before the first UK Covid death. Hancock was told that he had ‘come over well’ and that ‘a well handled crisis of this scale could propel you into the next league, and break you through in terms of public perception’.
So, will the Sunday Telegraph have the best of the lot? Steerpike awaits.