Health Secretary Matt Hancock is blamed for early failure of Cobra meetings as government sources claim he did not "question" his own department's Covid-19 crisis response
- Whitehall's coronavirus pointer put Matt Hancock in the line of fire
- The health minister is accused of poorly leading the first Cobra meetings
- Plans have been drawn up for the future assumption of the independent minister
Whitehall's coronavirus hint has put Matt Hancock in the line of fire for failing to scrutinize his own department's early handling of the pandemic.
The health minister is accused of leading Cobra meetings that failed to effectively investigate the crisis response.
Government sources said the committee did not "contest" the health ministry's Covid-19 preparations when its own foreign minister was at the helm.
Friends of Mr Hancock have pushed these allegations back, but the Sunday Telegraph reports that plans have already been drawn up for an independent minister to chair the committee.
The health minister is accused of leading Cobra meetings that failed to effectively investigate the crisis response
According to the newspaper, a cabinet member who has no responsibility for executing the decisions will take control of Cobra.
These numbers could include Cabinet Minister Michael Gove or Foreign Minister Dominic Raab.
Whitehall's top decision makers are invited to Cobra meetings in the event of an emergency to coordinate a cross-departmental response.
Current guidance from the Cabinet Office states that a lead government department will be held responsible for overall management of the government response.
"In the most severe of circumstances, this could include activating COBR for rapid coordination and collective decision-making."
It goes on to say: "The Prime Minister, the Interior Minister or any other senior minister will normally chair the most important meetings, which may include ministers and officials from the relevant departments."
Boris Johnson delegated the planning to Mr. Hancock and asked him to chair the Cobra
However, when China was grappling with its Wuhan outbreak and Britain was preparing for an infection, Boris Johnson delegated the planning to Mr Hancock and asked him to chair the Cobra.
A government official told the Telegraph these meetings had not "challenged" the health department's response.
But another source came on the Health Secretary's defense and told the newspaper, "To say that Matt went in and said," This is my take on what I've decided and what we're going to do, "wouldn't be a fair reflection of these meetings. & # 39;
Mr Johnson has announced that there will be a government investigation into the management of the crisis, which was criticized in its early stages for, among other things, failing to procure enough PPE and locking it in too slowly.
However, a government spokesman said "There are no plans to change the rules" about who runs Cobra.
However, as the UK emerges from the lockdown, it is expected that the finger pointing in the government will increase.
A senior official told Politico: "Obviously the debt game has been going on for almost as long as the virus and has grown in strength.
& # 39; As the epidemic wanes, the guilt game becomes more intense. I think the public service absolutely expects that. & # 39;