Despite acknowledging the existence of the explosive sector impact dashboard detailed in this morning’s Times, Michael Gove refused to commit to revealing it. This is especially odd, given that one of the defences Gove used to defend the decision to keep it secret is his insistence the data it contains is “publicly available”. Why can’t it be released anyway then?
The Covid Sectoral Impact Dashboard, as it is officially known, covers 40 sectors of the economy, rating areas as ‘red’ which are at severe economic risk from restrictions. Gove’s contention this morning on the Today Programme was that the economic impact “would be greater” if the restrictions were not in place, due to public behaviour changes. Areas the dashboard singles out as facing job cuts and revenue losses are not particularly surprising – including aerospace, the automotive industry, retail, hospitality and tourism, arts and heritage, maritime and sport.
Yet the data the Government did publish on the economy yesterday was feeble at best, officially claiming “It is not possible to know with any degree of confidence what path the economy would take if restrictions in place were not sufficient”. Guido is struggling to see how Gove can assert with such confidence that the economic damage a more loosely restrained Covid would do to the economy would be harsher than the Government imposed restrictions, given the Government last night said “it is not possible to know“.
The Government is bracing for a rebellion larger than its majority this evening. Covid Recovery Group Deputy Chairman Steve Baker tells Guido this morning that if the dashboard is publicly available data the government should have no hesitation in publishing it. They’ll have to do more to avoid a stonking rebellion…