Matt Hancock has been berated online for misrepresenting the French president’s comments about England’s Test and Trace system.
The health secretary tweeted on Wednesday evening that Emmanuel Marcon had “complimented” the nation’s Test and Trace programme.
“Tonight parliament endorsed & president Macron complimented our Test & Trace. Massive thanks to my team & all those working so hard to deliver huge growth in capacity – helping keep people safe,” he posted.
But the French president had far from hailed Westminster’s programme.
During an interview broadcast on France 24, Macron admitted his country’s own contact tracing app had been unsuccessful after it only alerted 993 people to self-isolate.
Macron said the app had been downloaded too few times to be effective.
He said: “In Germany and the UK there were a lot more downloads. We weren’t successful.
“If you look at our neighbours today, though, the cases they identified through these apps, even in Germany and the UK [was] very few.
“So no one has been successful in turning that app into an alert tool.”
Twitter users were quick to call out Hancock’s blunder.
British-French journalist Alex Taylor tweeted: “Macron absolutely did not ‘compliment’ UK Test and Trace !!
“He said ‘even in countries where there were more downloads (for example in Germany and in the United Kingdom) the apps didn’t manage to contact many people’.
“If you take that as a ‘compliment’ you’re pretty desperate for compliments @MattHancock.”
Macron absolutely did not "compliment" UK Test and Trace !!
He said "even in countries where there were more downloads (for example 🇩🇪and 🇬🇧) the apps didn't manage to contact many people"
— Alex Taylor (@AlexTaylorNews) October 15, 2020
One user, by the name IanMc, wrote: “No he didn’t. What he actually said was that test and trace hasn’t worked because not enough people have downloaded the app. And therefore something better, that people will actually use, must be put in place. And that more testing, more accessible with rapid results is vital.”
Others were more direct.
Jon Jones posted: “One word… Bollocks.”
Tiernan Douieb quipped: “Matt, sorry to say that ‘merde’ isn’t French for good.”
Matt, sorry to say that 'merde' isn't French for good. https://t.co/gHfOCqYkFF
— Tiernan Douieb (@TiernanDouieb) October 14, 2020
Michael Spicer added: “You ballsed it up. You’ve ballsed everything up since you first bumbled into the health dept like a sea lion walking into a hatstand. You ballsed it up yesterday, you ballsed it up today, you’ll balls it up tomorrow.”
Strong 'Person cornering you at a party & asking what you reckon to a poem they've written' vibes here. https://t.co/U35hNMWmDJ
— Nick Pettigrew (@Nick_Pettigrew) October 14, 2020
Another user wrote: “The truth just slides off him like rain off a greased weasel.”