Kate Garraway calls out Jeremy Hunt as he tries to dodge Hancock probe ‘Can’t let you off’
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Kate Garraway and Charlotte Hawkins welcomed Jeremy Hunt onto Good Morning Britain today to quiz the health and social care secretary on the Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The pair were keen to find out what Hunt thought of his predecessor, Matt Hancock, but as he squirmed and tried to avoid their probing, Garraway called him out.
Garraway asked: “Do you look back at not getting the leadership and not being a health secretary right now as dodging a bullet. How do you think Matt Hancock is doing?”
Hunt replied: “Well I think Matt is being incredibly resilient. I know what it’s like to be behind his desk and although I didn’t have a pandemic, I had four winter crises and I had a flu epidemic.
“It’s incredibly tough, he has extraordinary energy. I was in the cabinet for nine years so I know what it’s like to be under a lot of pressure.
“I’m very happy now to be spending more time being a slightly better dad hopefully than I was before.”
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But Garraway wasn’t satisfied with his answer as she interrupted: “I know you’re a nice man Jeremy but I can’t let you off by just saying he’s being resilient.”
“That’s very nice of you to say Kate,” Hunt replied.
Garraway continued: “You’re being nice about everybody but what do you think about how he’s done with decisions because he’s come under criticism, hasn’t he?
“In fact, when you were Health Secretary, you had a rehearsal for a pandemic, didn’t you? Back in 2016, Cygnus I think it was called.
“Why weren’t we better prepared? What has Matt Hancock not had? What would you have done differently?”
Hunt answered: “Okay well first of all that Operation Cygnus was a huge pandemic preparation exercise back in 2016.
“We put a lot of work in it and we implemented all the recommendations but it has one crucial flaw which was it was a flu pandemic and what we ended up with was more like a SARS pandemic with coronavirus.
“There was a blind spot and it was there when I was health secretary so I have my share of the responsibility.”
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Interrupting, Garraway said: “The reason why I’m asking this is not to make you feel bad about preparing for something you didn’t know was coming.
“People feel that we haven’t been prepared. There’s a lot of talk of listening to scientists and listening to advice.
“What was being said to you back then? Why was there that blind spot? SARS is around so maybe we should have thought about this.”
Hunt remarked: “Yes we should have but to be fair to the scientific establishment here it was a blind spot that was the same across the whole of western Europe and North America.
“The only countries that really dealt with coronavirus successfully are the Asian countries that had direct experience of SARS.
“But with respect to the Government’s performance this year it’s clear now we were too late going into lockdown.
“We should have done the test and trace earlier but we are in a much better position now.”
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays on ITV at 6am.
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