In private communications that show conversations over when to “release” information regarding a new strain, Matt Hancock informed advisers that he planned to “frighten the pants off everyone” to guarantee compliance with Covid-19 limits.
The most recent WhatsApp conversations, which were revealed in The Sunday Telegraph, reveal how Mr. Hancock and others considered using a warning about the Kent form of the virus to frighten people into changing their behavior.
The letters are among the over 100,000 messages the writer Isabel Oakeshott forwarded to the Telegraph. They reveal that Cabinet Secretary Simon Case said in January 2021 that the “fear” element would be “important” in preventing the virus’ growth.
The release has already made Rishi Sunak and Mr. Hancock express their dissatisfaction with Dominic Cummings’ “nightmare” period in Downing Street, and with the then-health secretary’s constant worries that the then-renowned chancellor’s Dine Out to Help Out campaign was causing the spread of Covid-19.
The most recent messages highlight the strategy Mr. Hancock and others used to communicate with the public at various points throughout the outbreak.
The talks between the parties in December 2020 express worry that London Mayor Sadiq Khan would join Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham in fighting with the government regarding the decision to put harsh lockdown limitations on the area.