The Sunday Telegraph newspaper revealed that the then British Minister of Health, Matt Hancock, discussed in December 2020 with his advisors when a new type of Corona virus would be detected in order to scare people with it and force them to comply with the closure.
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The newspaper published another section on Sunday with more than 100,000 circulation. Messages were exchanged on Whatsapp between Hancock and other ministers and officials at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The source of the leak to the paper was journalist Isabelle Oakeshott, who helped Hancock write an unpublished memoir during the pandemic.
In letters sent on December 13, 2020 Hancock expressed concern that the London authorities might oppose a new lockdown.
December 2020: The United Kingdom announced a new type of COVID-19
“Instead of giving so many signals early on,” one consultant wrote, “we could throw a new variant on the field,” to which Hancock replied, “With a new variant we’ll scare everyone’s pants off.”
“Yes, this is what will change the behavior accordingly,” the counselor notes, and then the minister asks, “So when do we use the new alternative?”
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The next day, Hancock publicly announced the emergence of a new type of coronavirus, and four days later the government rolled back plans to ease restrictions for the Christmas period.
In another exchange of leaked letters, dated January 10, 2021, Hancock and Prime Minister Simon Case’s Chief of Staff discussed how to achieve greater compliance with the restrictions.
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They considered for example tightening face mask requirements, but Hancock expressed the view that small changes were not the way to go. “I think it’s true. The little things seem funny. Upping the message—the fear/guilt factor is key,” Case wrote.
Matt Hancock was Health Secretary from July 2018 to June 2021. He resigned after the media caught him violating restrictions. Last November, the Conservative Party suspended his membership of the Parliamentary caucus over his participation in a reality television show.
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