Cabinet ministers ‘fuming’ after being shut out of discussions about easing of lockdown

PUBLISHED: 10:05 11 May 2020 | UPDATED: 13:44 11 May 2020

Prime minister Boris Johnson addressing the nation on Sunday, May 10, 2020.  Picture: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire

Prime minister Boris Johnson addressing the nation on Sunday, May 10, 2020. Picture: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire

Archant

Cabinet ministers are said to be ‘fuming’ after reports emerged that Downing Street cut them out of discussions on how to ease the country out of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

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Several senior cabinet figures told The Telegraph that Boris Johnson’s team failed to brief them on changes to lockdown measures.

The paper reported that ministers received scant details of the prime minister’s plans during a lunchtime briefing on Sunday, receiving an agenda with no detailed documents.

It is also understood many were left frustrated after discovering Downing Street had changed its “stay home, stay safe” slogan through media reports, instead of via the prime minister’s office. They were also in “disbelief’” that Johnson had already recorded parts of his speech on Saturday.

The criticisms are being aimed at Johnson and his closest allies: Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Matt Hancock and Rishi Sunak, in what sources to the newspaper likened to a secretive form of consultation.

A cabinet source told The Telegraph: “Ministers were calling each other before the meeting to complain about what was going on.

“They weren’t trusted with the ‘unlockdown’ document so they didn’t know what was coming, and they were having to read about things like the ‘Stay Alert’ slogan in the Sunday papers.

“It’s all being done by Number 10 and by the ‘quad’ of Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Matt Hancock and Rishi Sunak, with others cut out of the conversation.

“It means secretaries of state can’t run their departments properly because they don’t know what’s ahead. They are trying their best to prepare their sector of the economy or society for the next step, but that’s hard to do if no-one is telling you what the next step is.”

In Sunday evening’s address, Johnson eased exercise restrictions, allowing more than one workout per day and for people to sit in parks from Wednesday.

He also urged those who could return to work to do so, with the expectation some essential shops would begin reopening in June, and primary schools in the same month.

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