Guido brings you the key lines…
09.35: Greg Clark points out Cummings has missed all deadlines to submit evidence to substantiate his claims made against Hancock during his committee appearance. Cummings has not explained the absence of his submission.
09.36: Hancock denies ever saying something to the PM that he knew to be untrue
09.37: Hancock denies blaming Treasury for blocking purchasing of PPE. Says it is “Not a fair recollection” of the truth.
09.42: Hancock explains the care home testing policy
09.49: Clark: “Did you know that [Cummings] wanted the PM to fire you?”; Hancock: “Yes because he briefed the newspapers at the time”
09.54: Hancock says “The best thing to say is that Government has operated much better over the last six months”
10.10: Hancock defends the 100,000 target says it was needed to galvanise the Whitehall machine.
10.12: Hancock claims countries that experienced SARS & MERS were better prepared, though Covid-19 was very different on account of asymptomatic transmission.
10.18: Hancock: “One of the things that we must absolutely change at a global level – that part of the response to a global health pathogen needs to be health action at the border.”
10.29: Hancock stresses that only 1.6% of cases from care homes came from hospitals.
10:49: Insists that closing the borders last year would have made little difference: “The only way the world could have stopped this virus getting out of China is if China itself had stopped people leaving China.”
11:28: Hancock claims he first heard about asymptomatic spread in January 2020: “I arranged a call with the World Health Organisation. I was told on that call with respect to China this was ‘likely a mistranslation’ […] I bitterly regret that I didn’t overrule that scientific advice.”
12:34: Hancock attributes Wales’ vaccine rollout success to the union, and claims Wales decided not to hold a “buffer supply” for second doses, unlike England. “The union saves lives“, he says.
12:43: On PPE shortages: “There’s no evidence, that I have seen, that a shortage of PPE provision led to anybody dying of Covid”.
13:03: Hancock says people should be happy to donate their health data (anonymously) for research purposes.
13:06: Responding to Cummings’ claim that the vaccine rollout was taken out of Hancock’s hands to ensure it was conducted effectively, Hancock said it was “a team effort“.
13:10: Again stressing how hard he pushed for vaccine development in early 2020.
13:16: Claims that Wales’ circuit breaker late last year wasn’t effective because cases immediately spiked after it was lifted.
13:25: On why the government didn’t close the borders to India earlier: “You have to act on the data that you have.”
13:31: The Delta/Indian variant now makes up 90% of cases in the UK.
13:49: That’s a wrap.
Starmer’s final question at PMQs turned to the issue of Palestine and the opportunity of the G7 to press for recognition of the state of Palestine and “get a meaningful peace process back up and running”. As Guido noted, a cynic may think the move might have something to do with the size of the Muslim vote in Batley & Spen, a community in which Labour is under siege from George Galloway. Something The Times’ Patrick Maguire seemingly agreed with, tweeting it “felt like it was written for Labour canvassers in Batley and Spen”.
Both Boris and Ian Blackford wishing the other’s team well in the Euros (although no words of support offered for Wales)…
While the rest of the world focuses on battling the pandemic, or foreign aid, MPs are mainly concerned with one issue today: their jobs. The Boundary Commission will, late tonight, publish their 2023 boundary review, which will redraw almost every constituency in the UK. While the South East IS set to gain a number of seats, the North East, North West and Midlands face a cut of six in total. Today MPs have been invited to learn the fate of their areas, under embargo:
The picture will emerge more clearly in the next few hours. Guido hears many MPs are scared of talking to their colleagues about the proposals, fearing they accidentally brag that their seat is fine in front of someone set to lose theirs. Welsh and Scottish MPs are particularly relaxed – their proposals aren’t being published until September…
Lee Anderson, one of the Women and Equalities Committee’s newest members, made his first emphatic statement on related matters in the Commons this afternoon – by railing against a glossary of ‘equality, diversity and inclusion’ which appeared on the NHS website this morning:
“Now then, I see that our NHS have published their very own woke alphabet. Which includes terms such as ‘white fragility’ for the letter W. Now not only is this a load of nonsense, it’s also very divisive. So does my right honourable friend agree with me that the vast majority of our brilliant NHS staff are more interested in keeping the nation healthy, rather than learning the ABC of woke-ry?”
The page has already been deleted, easy as 1-2-3.