The Ri-Shuffle is creating a swathe of vacancies in the plum Commons job of select committee chairs. Hunt’s promotion to Chancellor vacated the chair of the Health select committee; Mel Stride’s promotion to DWP vacates the Treasury select committee; and Rob Halfon’s promotion to Education minister vacates the Education selection committee.
A senior MP has just been in touch to say that none other than former Health Secretary Matt Hancock to is now gearing up for the sweetest plum of all: the chairmanship of the Treasury select committee. He was levelling for a job with Liz, and Rishi’s already passed him over – will this finally be the comeback Hancock’s been looking for?
He’ll up against John Baron, who’s just declared this afternoon that he’s standing. Kit Malthouse is also reportedly mulling a bid. Stay tuned…
UPDATE: Harriett Baldwin is also standing, and is keen to remind Guido that she has been on the Committee for the last three years and Cassandra-like in asking the Governor of the Bank of England about rising inflationary pressures and the Deputy Governor about the capacity of the gilt market to absorb increases in issuance as well as quantitative tightening. She was City Minister in David Cameron’s government and before politics had a very successful 20-year City career at JP Morgan. She’s a hawk.
UPDATE II: Andrea Leadsom is also standing. She’s campaigning on her 25 years experience in the financial sector prior to becoming an MP, plus previously serving on the committee for four years in the wake of the financial crash.
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.