Good morning. Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, was making a rare appearance on the morning interview round today. He was mostly talking about the announcement about the £4bn support package for leaseholders hit by excessive cladding-removal costs, which will be the subject of a Commons statement later. But he was also asked about Covid, and in an interview on the Today programme he effectively admitted that he was wrong, and Boris Johnson was right, when the cabinet considered the need for tougher restrictions for England in the week before Christmas. When it was put to him that he had favoured tighter restrictions, but that developments since then suggested they were not needed, he replied:
From some of the things that I’ve said and written people will know that, in the spectrum of opinion, I was at the more cautious end. Perfectly legit to draw that inference. But the prime minister, who’s had so many different things to balance, publicly that we would be able to get through this with the booster campaign. So if more were required, then we would be ready to put in additional measures. We always keep that under review. But his judgment has been vindicated.
The interview almost did not happen because Gove got stuck in a BBC lift on his way to the studio, prompting numerous jokes about his need personal need for a more efficient levelling up strategy. This is from the BBC’s Jack Lamport.
I will post more from Gove’s morning interviews shortly.
Here is the agenda for the day.
11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.
Morning: Boris Johnson is doing a visit, where he is expected to record a pooled TV interview.
3.30pm: Alok Sharma, Cop26 president, gives evidence to the Lords environment committee about delivering the Cop26 agenda.
After 3.30pm: Michael Gove makes a statement to MPs about a £4bn package to help leaseholders facing crippling cladding-removal costs.
I will be covering UK Covid developments here today, but for wider coronavirus coverage, do read our global live blog.
I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.
If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.
Alternatively, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org