Nigel Farage today boasted of flagrantly breaking lockdown rules during the Covid pandemic as he taunted ‘pipsqueak’ Matt Hancock.
Decrying the ‘gross over-reactions’ imposed on Britain, the ex-UKIP leader joked that the former Health Secretary ‘couldn’t stop me’.
It comes after extraordinary WhatsApp messages published last night revealed one of Mr Hancock’s team asked if they could ‘lock up’ Mr Farage after he posted a video of himself drinking beer at a pub following a trip to the US — which raised suspicion that he breached quarantine rules enforced at that time.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph following the explosive revelation, Mr Farage said: ‘The Chinese would be proud of such instincts, frankly.’
Nigel Farage travelled to the US in June 2020, where he attended rallies for Donald Trump
Mr Hancock messaged his advisory team at 4.28pm on the same day as Mr Farage’s pub trip with a link to a Sky News story detailing the incident, saying: ‘We need to discuss urgently.’ One of his top aides, Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, said: ‘Does he count as a pub hooligan? Can we lock him up?’
Mr Farage shared photos of him in America while the vast majority of the UK were unable to leave the country
At the time, Mr Farage claimed he had waited the full two weeks and had received a negative test result
On July 4 2020, Mr Farage tweeted a clip of himself enjoying his ‘first proper pint in 103 days’ at The Queens Head pub in Downe Village, Kent.
Two weeks earlier, he was filmed attending a Donald Trump rally in Oklahoma.
Anyone entering England from abroad at the time was required to quarantine for 14 days or face a fine of at least £1,000.
Mr Hancock messaged his advisory team at 4.28pm on the same day as Mr Farage’s pub trip with a link to a Sky News story detailing the incident, saying: ‘We need to discuss urgently.’
One of his top aides, Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, said: ‘Does he count as a pub hooligan? Can we lock him up?’
Mr Hancock asked his team to contact the Home Office to determine whether they were ‘considering’ pursuing Mr Farage for breaching quarantine.
Mr Njoku-Goodwin responded that, following a chat with fellow civil servants from the HO, that it sounded ‘like we need to get PHE to do one of their “spot checks” and prove that he isn’t at home’.
Mr Hancock later requested that Mr Farage’s case be ‘treated like any other’.
At the time of his return from the US, Mr Farage claimed he had waited the full two weeks before going to the pub.
The 58-year-old also said he had received a negative Covid test result.
Addressing everyone ‘screaming and shouting’ about his actions, he tweeted a photo of himself, again in the pub, with the caption: ‘Sorry to disappoint you. Cheers!’
But he told The Daily Telegraph last night: ‘It was pretty nip and tuck… which means I probably was in breach. I’m probably a Covidiot.’
He told the newspaper: ‘If I was being honest with you, after the first set of lockdowns I wasn’t really prepared for some little pipsqueak like Matt Hancock to tell me how to live my life, quite frankly.’
Mr Farage reportedly received three visits from police officers during the pandemic.
He added: ‘The idea that headmaster Hancock was after me – I love it.’
Writing in The Daily Telegraph today, Mr Farage said Mr Hancock — who ‘relished’ the power he had and was ‘convinced of his own importance’ — was at the ‘forefront of the campaign’ ordering the nation to stay at home.
Mr Farage, who has long been a critic of Mr Hancock — having called for him to be sacked in April 2020 — said he felt ‘vindication’ reading the WhatsApp messages.
He said it comes as ‘no surprise’ that Mr Hancock asked an aide to contact the Home Office to determine whether he breached Covid rules.
Mr Njoku-Goodwin questioning whether Mr Farage could be locked up ‘bears the hallmark of all undemocratic regimes’, he said.
‘The Chinese would be proud of such instincts, frankly,’ Mr Farage added.
He said that he ‘freely and happily admits’ that he ‘ignored’ many Covid rules and called rules limiting people from leaving their home or going to the pub ‘were gross over-reactions’.
KEY CLAIMS OF THE LOCKDOWN FILES INVESTIGATION
A fresh cache of 100,000 text and WhatsApp messages leaked to the Daily Telegraph by the ex-journalist who ghost-wrote Hancock’s Pandemic Diaries claimed:
- Matt Hancock rejected the Chief Medical Officer’s call to test all residents going into English care homes for Covid
- A minister in Mr Hancock’s department said restrictions on visitors to care homes were ‘inhumane’, but residents remained isolated many months on
- Mr Hancock’s adviser arranged for a personal test to be couriered for Jacob Rees-Mogg’s child at a time of national shortage
- Mr Hancock told former chancellor George Osborne, then editor of the Evening Standard, ‘I WANT TO HIT MY TARGET!’ as he pushed for favourable front-page coverage
- Mr Hancock allegedly met his 100,000-tests-a-day target by counting kits that were despatched before the deadline but might never be processed
- Social care minister Helen Whately told Mr Hancock the testing system was ‘definitely working’ after she managed to secure a test ‘just’ 50 miles from where she lived.
- Mr Osborne warned Mr Hancock that ‘no one thinks testing is going well’ in late 2020
- The then prime minister, Boris Johnson, revealed he was going ‘quietly crackers’ about the UK’s shortage of test kits
- Face masks were introduced in school hallways and communal areas after the PM was told it would avoid an ‘argument’ with Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon
- Matt Hancock took ‘rearguard’ action to close schools after former education secretary Sir Gavin Williamson persuaded the PM to keep them open in January 2021
- Sir Gavin said teachers were looking for an ‘excuse’ not to work during the pandemic
- Ministers said there was ‘no robust rationale’ for imposing the ‘rule of six’ on children, but did it anyway
- Pupils with false positive results on a lateral flow test had to isolate at home for ten days, even when they tested negative on a PCR, to avoid ‘unpicking’ the policy
- The PM feared that he ‘blinked too soon’ in plunging the UK into a second Covid lockdown after being warned that gloomy modelling which bounced him into the move was ‘very wrong’
- Mr Johnson was eager to ease curbs on retail, hospitality and gatherings in June 2020 but was told he was ‘too far ahead of public opinion’
- Mr Hancock and top civil servant Simon Case joked about travellers ‘locked up’ in quarantine hotels during Covid lockdown
- The minister said the Government should ‘get heavy with the police’ to help crack down on Covid lockdown rulebreakers
- Mr Hancock’s team asked if they could ‘lock up’ Nigel Farage after he posted a video of himself in a pub when they suspected he was in breach of rules
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