Matt Hancock told aides he wanted to “frighten the pants off everyone” to ensure compliance with Covid-19 restrictions, in leaked messages which reveal discussions over when to “deploy” details of a new strain.
The latest set of WhatsApp exchanges, published in The Sunday Telegraph, show how Mr Hancock and others discussed how to use an announcement about the Kent variant of the virus to scare the public into changing their behaviour.
The messages, among more than 100,000 messages passed to the Telegraph by the journalist Isabel Oakeshott, show that Cabinet Secretary Simon Case suggested in January 2021 that the “fear” factor would be “vital” in stopping the spread of the virus.
The leak has already revealed Rishi Sunak and Mr Hancock complaining about Dominic Cummings’ “nightmare” tenure in Downing Street, as well as the then health secretary’s repeated concerns that the then chancellor’s signature Eat Out To Help Out initiative was contributing to the spread of Covid-19.
Read more: Need to ‘frighten the pants’ off public with new ‘Covid’ strain, said Hancock (But when we said that at the time it was a ‘conspiracy theory’)