Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Was Sunak oblivious to No. 10’s Covid dysfunction?

(Photo: Getty)

Rishi Sunak has already provided a statement of evidence to the Covid Inquiry, but this morning’s hearing spent more time examining his interview with Fraser in The Spectator last summer. Hugo Keith KC was particularly interested in whether Sunak had a line of communication with Boris Johnson that wasn’t recorded. Keith was referring to a line in the interview which says Sunak tried not to challenge the Prime Minister in public or leave a paper trail because it would be leaked:

He tried not to challenge the Prime Minister in public, or leave a paper trail. ‘I’d say a lot of stuff to him in private,’ he says. ‘There’s some written record of every-thing. In general, people leak it – and it causes problems.’

Sunak claimed the paper trail was what ‘the author’ wrote, and ‘the author’ (Fraser), offers more detail on that here.

Sunak also argued that it was not possible for all conversations between ministers to be recorded. He said:

‘I think the point I’d probably challenge is its significance. I think it is genuinely impossible for every single conversation between two cabinet ministers, whoever they are, to be recorded. I mean, there aren’t civil servants following cabinet ministers through the division lobbies, on a typical evening, where they might be chatting about something or if I was having lunch with my family in the garden at the same time that the Prime Minister was, on a typical weekend in Downing Street, and we’d obviously be chatting as we were barbecuing or something. I mean, it’s just it’s gonna be impractical to think that every single conversation between two cabinet ministers can be recorded in that way. But I think everyone would accept that, I think that;s obviously fine because what is happening is when there are formal decisions to be made and formal conversations to be had, those are happening with individuals.

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Isabel Hardman
Written by
Isabel Hardman
Isabel Hardman is assistant editor of The Spectator and author of Why We Get the Wrong Politicians. She also presents Radio 4’s Week in Westminster.

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