Health secretary Matt Hancock has been criticised for laughing at questions about the government’s track and trace scheme on live television.
Hancock appeared on Sky News with Kay Burley when he laughed at accusations the government had rushed its rollout of the track and trace scheme to deflect attention from Dominic Cummings.
Hancock, who started chuckling as Burley began to ask her question, said: ‘It’s priceless Kay, I’m usually accused of delaying these things and bringing them in too slowly.
‘I committed to getting this system in mid-May and it’s just about mid-May. You can’t accuse me of rushing it and of a delay.’
The news host questioned the minister over why the government had abandoned plans to launched its track and trace programme and the accompanying NHS app at the same time, saying her viewers think this ‘is not a laughing matter’.
‘I can’t quite tell if you’re saying I’ve gone too slow or too fast,’ the health secretary said.
‘I don’t think my viewers know,’ Burley responded. ‘They are as confused as I am’.
Continuing to grin, Hancock argued that it was more important to ensure a team of tracers were in place before the NHSX app launched.
He said: ‘One of the things we learnt in the pilot on the Isle of Wight is that getting people used of that idea is important to do before we then add the technological capability, the app, on top.’
Hancock’s reaction was slammed by Twitter users. Labour politician Michael Payne wrote: ‘What on earth is he laughing at? Nothing about this awful pandemic and the inordinate loss of life is a laughing matter.’
Cerys Matthews shared: ‘No laughing matter: the UK now has the highest coronavirus death rate as a proportion of population of any country in the world.’
Lindsey McLaughlin posted: ‘Disgusting that he feels this is a laughing matter. I’m definitely not laughing. Nor are the tens of thousands of grieving families.’
Freelance journalist Claire Coleman took a different view, praising Burley for her confronting the minister: ‘I am so here for the fearless women like @KayBurley, @maitlis, @BethRigby, @YvetteCooperMP, @carolinenokes, etc holding these men, who think they can laugh off anything, to account. Highest death rate and the health secretary is laughing. ‘Priceless”.