March 23, 2023

UK Covid live: PM implies he played role in Hancock’s decision to quit – contradicting what No 10 said on Friday

Despite accepting Matt Hancock’s apology on Friday and saying the ‘matter was closed’, Boris Johnson...

Despite accepting Matt Hancock’s apology on Friday and saying the ‘matter was closed’, Boris Johnson has suggested he played a role his resignation

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2.40pm BST

Schools, colleges and universities in Wales are to be given more local control over what Covid restrictions are put in place, the Welsh education minister, Jeremy Miles, has said.

Speaking at a press conference in Cardiff, Miles said:

While we will not simply be back to normal by September, we will look to gradually ease the extraordinary measures we’ve had to put in place. Our guiding principle has to be a move towards education being enabled to operate as normally as possible in the autumn.

Currently, all education settings follow national guidance. However, as we move through the pandemic there will be a need to move to a more localised approach, rather than a blanket approach.

These changes do not mean a wholesale removal of mitigating measures, but are about our schools, colleges and universities being able to make decisions based on the balance of harms and minimising disruption to learning – all within the wider context of our successful vaccine programme and relatively low case numbers.

We will continue to engage with staff and our other partners on any proposed changes, as we have done throughout the pandemic.

2.36pm BST

Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, has hinted that Matt Hancock’s conduct with his adviser does raise legitimate questions about ministerial conduct, while refusing to offer any opinions on his colleague’s ethics.

Asked by political reporters in Scotland about Hancock’s behaviour and the prime minister’s refusal to sack him, Gove said gnomically:

I think Matt made the right decision and I think in all of these questions, all of us have an opportunity to reflect on different aspects of the matter. But now that Matt has made his decision we should respect that and for me the focus now is on supporting the prime minister and Sajid [Javid, the new health secretary] and others in the fight against the pandemic.

Commentators will have their views and I completely understand that but I’m not a commentator. It’s my job to work with others in government to do what we can to recover from the pandemic.

Matt was to my mind a dedicated public servant. He made a mistake. But we should remember that he was one of the central to the successful vaccination programme and he worked incredibly hard for the NHS, and he has now resigned and I think we should respect his privacy now.

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