RISHI Sunak has said government “shouldn’t have empowered the scientists in the way we did” at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The former Chancellor told The Spectator magazine that there was a failure to “acknowledge trade-offs from the beginning” and that lockdown’s impacts on other health services, as well as schools and the economy, were barely mentioned in the early stages of lockdown.
Sunak said that ministers were told to bat back questions about the side-effects of effectively shutting down the country by Number 10.
“The script was not to ever acknowledge them. The script was: oh, there’s no trade-off, because doing this for our health is good for the economy,” he said.
The potential next PM, who is currently lagging badly in polls to his rival Liz Truss, said research from JP Morgan on the Omicron variant helped the Cabinet conclude there was no need to lock down last winter.
Sunak said had the side-effects been taken into more consideration, Britain could have had a “shorter, different, quicker” lockdown.
He also expressed reservations about the messaging used by the UK government to encourage people to stay at home during lockdown.
“We helped shape that: with the fear messaging, empowering the scientists and not talking about the trade-offs.”