Daily Mail

Hancock’s plot ‘to block disability centre funds for lockdown rebel MP’

- By David Churchill Chief Political Correspond­ent

LEAKED WhatsApp messages appear to show Matt Hancock discussing a plan to block funding for a centre for disabled children and adults to strong-arm a rebel Tory MP into supporting new restrictio­ns.

An exchange between the then health secretary and his adviser show them talking about taking a plan for a learning disability hub in Bury ‘off the table’ if local MP James Daly didn’t side with the Government in a key lockdown vote.

Mr Daly said he was ‘appalled’ that the disability hub was being used to potentiall­y coerce him.

According to the messages, Mr Hancock also wanted to bring Covid patients from France to the UK for treatment during the pandemic.

On November 13, 2020, Mr Hancock shared a letter with advisers that he planned to send to French health minister Olivier Veran. It said: ‘I have seen the pressure on your hospitals... we have our epidemic largely in the north of England, and some spare capacity in London and the south. We could provide some ICU beds.’ It is unclear whether the plan was put to French officials.

Other messages published by The Daily Telegraph reveal chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty advised ministers not to enforce a sex ban during the pandemic. Sir Chris said: ‘If it’s a regular partner, I don’t think people are likely to listen to advice not to see them for three weeks or maybe more.’ His advice was ignored and couples faced 11 weeks of separation.

It came as Rishi Sunak last night backed Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to stay on, despite mounting calls for him to quit over his ‘extraordin­ary’ attacks on ministers, which have been revealed in Mr Hancock’s WhatsApp messages.

A spokesman for Mr Hancock said: ‘As we’ve repeatedly seen this last week, it is completely wrong to take this entirely partial account and write it up as fact.’

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