'You can smell the improvement' in government, claims former Tory leader

Boris Johnson holds a press conference at 10 Downing Street

Boris Johnson holds a press conference at 10 Downing Street - Credit: Simon Dawson / No10 Downing Street

Former Tory leader William Hague has claimed “you can smell” the improvement in the government since the departure of Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain.

Hague said Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser and spin doctor, who left Downing Street last year, were “brilliant people” but that “maybe running governments wasn’t their greatest skill”.

The Tory peer said there had been a “big improvement” since they left.

He said: “I don’t want to personally attack the people who left, they were brilliant people but maybe running governments wasn’t their greatest skill compared to running campaigns.

“Well, now some people have been brought in who are very good at running government.

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“The prime minister has a new chief of staff, he’s made other recent appointments and you can tell over the last couple of months that government has worked better.

“There has been more under-promising and over-delivering rather than the other way round, there have been fewer rows, there have been fewer destructive leaks and side briefings to the press.

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“You can just tell, you can smell it, that things have improved and the way things work in government, the public can smell it as well.”

Hague also urged Johnson not to keep coronavirus lockdown restrictions in place beyond April when all those over 50 have had the opportunity to be vaccinated.

He said there “wouldn’t be much justification for keeping most of the restrictions on people” by then provided the number of cases is down to a “very low level”.

He explained: “Now, he is presumably going to say that will depend on the progress that’s being made and that’s fair enough.

“But I think if we are going to reach the point, perhaps in April, where everybody over the age of 50 has had the opportunity to be vaccinated and the number of cases of Covid is down to a very low level – the sort of level we last saw in the middle of the summer last year – if both of those things have happened by some time in April, then there wouldn’t be much justification for keeping most of the restrictions on people, I think with one big caveat.

“There has to be a deal, as it were, between the Government and the people of this country that we have to do the mass testing when we reach that point.

“We have to be ready for really rapid, ruthless, local lockdowns: we have to all join in making a test and trace system work, which it can do once the infections are at a lower level, so everybody has to be psychologically ready for that and if they are, then I think at that point the government can really release most of the restrictions.”

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