Politics

Matt Hancock debated telling Covid-positive Trump to follow advice on ‘drinking bleach’, diaries reveal

Related video: Matt Hancock serenades Gina Colangelo with Perfect by Ed Sheeran

ITV

If you thought Matt Hancock’s comeback campaign was limited to his third place performance on this year’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, we regret to inform you that the disgraced former health secretary has now got a book to promote too.

Pandemic Diaries, which Mr Hancock penned with right-wing journalist and GB News presenter Isabel Oakeshott, is out on Tuesday and looks to share “the inside story of Britain’s battle against Covid”.

Extracts and teasers have already been shared in the Mail ahead of publication, with one revelation relating to an entry from October 2020 after US president Donald Trump and his wife Melania tested positive for Covid-19.

“Tempting as it was to take to social media and suggest Trump try treating himself with a blast of UV light or by drinking bleach, I left it,” he wrote.

This of course relates to the former Apprentice star’s infamous press briefing from April 2020, in which he referenced a “disinfectant that knocks it [the virus] out in a minute” and asked if it could be used on individuals “by injection inside or almost a cleaning”.

Obviously, don’t inject yourself with bleach to treat Covid – or anything else for that matter.

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In an entry not long after President Trump issued those incredible remarks, Mr Hancock conceded in a diary entry that “a small part of me found it funny” but “a much bigger part of me was horrified”.

He said: “You'd like to think nobody would take these wild suggestions seriously, but around the world doctors are now genuinely having to warn people not to attempt to treat themselves with Cillit Bang.”

Other stark entries address the catastrophic decision to discharge Covid patients into care homes without testing (a “tragic” decision but they didn’t “have enough testing capacity to check anyway”), a “bonkers” plan to release “thousands” of prisoners out into the public, and a warning that 820,000 people could die from the coronavirus.

The alarming stat was given by England’s chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty, who delivered the projection “in his characteristically understated way”.

Mr Hancock wrote: “Sitting at the back peeling a tangerine, Chris Whitty quietly informed everyone that in the reasonable worst-case scenario as many as 820,000 people in the UK may die.

“The whole room froze. We are looking at a human catastrophe on a scale not seen here for a century."

Reassuring, then, that the West Sussex MP claimed the reaction to the projection from the cabinet was “somewhat ‘shrug shrug’”.

Then there’s the matter of forgiveness. In an interview with the Mail to coincide with all the publishing they’re doing around his book, Mr Hancock was asked about his admission to Charlene White in the jungle that “what I’m really looking for is a bit of forgiveness”.

He told the outlet: “I want forgiveness for the human error I made breaking the guidelines when I fell in love with Gina, but I’m not asking for forgiveness for how I handled the pandemic.

“The forgiveness I seek is that, right at the end of the pandemic, I went against the guidance I’d signed off for the reasons many people will understand, but are not an excuse.

“It was a failure of leadership. I don’t seek forgiveness for falling in love with Gina because I love her very deeply.”

So to be clear, he isn’t asking to be forgiven for falling in love with aide Gina Coladangelo in that viral CCTV footage, or for his response to Covid-19.

He does want forgiveness, however, for the “human error” of his guideline breach. That was when he was filmed kissing Ms Coladangelo in an office when social distancing rules were in place - which pretty much did play a part in his handling of the pandemic.

Got that?

It’s been reported that all of the royalties from Mr Hancock’s book sales will go towards NHS charities and “good causes relating to dyslexia” – the condition which the politician went on I’m A Celeb to promote but only managed to talk about in three out of 21 episodes.

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