By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 03 December 2022 • 17:07
Matt Hancock Credit: LINGTREN.COM/Shutterstock.com.
The UK unlike many other countries, doesn’t have a succession plan so ministers felt it the prudent thing to do, particularly as Johnson became very ill and had to be hospitalised.
According to Hancock, that news led to numerous pharmaceutical companies making contact to offer whatever drugs were needed to keep the then prime minister alive.
Johnson tested positive for the virus on March 27, becoming the first world-leader to announce he had the disease, at the time positing a jovial message saying that he was working from home and experiencing mils symptoms.
But that gung-ho attitude didn’t last long with his hospitalisation on April 5 and ultimately his move to intensive care where he was put on a ventilator.
Hancock said it was touch and go with a 50-:50 chance that he would survive.
Whilst in hospital the Deputy Prime Minister Dominc Raab fulfilled Johnson’s duties, which is a normal process whilst prime ministers are incapacitated.
Dominic Raab, who was serving in his first stint as deputy prime minister, carried out Mr Johnson’s functions while he was incapacitated.
According to the Metro, the last time a prime minister died in office was in 1865. The Lord Palmerston ‘passed from a chill’ with his successor being a party nobleman installed by Queen Victoria,
Hancock’s new book serialised in British newspapers on Saturday, December 3 said that he had warned the virus could kill hundreds of thousands of people if it went unchecked. He claims he told ministers some two months before lockdown of the dangers the virus presented but he says they “did not really believe it.”
Hancock said that Professor Sir Chris Whitty, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, had warned him in the January of 2020 that in a “reasonable worst-case scenario” as many 820,000 could die.
The book “the Inside story of Britain’s battle against Covid-19” points to his being ignored by ministers who simply shrugged their shoulders.
Pointing to specific dates and meetings, Hancock said Sir Whitty had warned there was a 50:50 chance the virus would reach Britain. He said: “The whole room froze.
“We are looking at a human catastrophe on a scale not seen here for a century.”
Sharing the warning with a BREXIT day meeting of the Cabinet on January 31, he said the news was largely met with indifference.
“The reaction was somewhat ‘shrug shrug’ – essentially because they didn’t really believe it. I am constantly feeling that others, who aren’t focused on this every day, are weeks behind what’s going on.”
Putting paid to Johnson’s claim of having saved lives and leading the world in dealing with the virus Hancock suggests Johnson had been reluctant to engage on the issue.
Johnson, in response to the outbreak in China, is quoted as saying: “You keep an eye on it. It will probably go away.”
Likewise, when he warned that it might still be possible to contain the virus if the country moved quickly, Johnson is quoted as replying: “Bash on.”
He also defended his position on releasing care home residents from hospital, which was ruled as unlawful in a later High Court trial, he said: “The tragic but honest truth is we don’t have enough testing capacity to check anyway. It’s an utter nightmare, but it’s the reality.”
More than 200,000 people died during the pandemic and billions was spent in trying to contain it. Hancock is trying to rebuild his reputation following some fatal errors that haven’t gone down well with the electorate or the party, but whether the latest allegations as he points a finger at Johnson will help remains to be seen.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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