Tory MP Matthew Hancock accused of talking "nonsense" over missed Daybreak interview

Daybreak presenter says the MP, who overslept, was "much more than a minute late".

Given George Osborne's fondness for bemoaning those "sleeping off a life on benefits" there was amusement yesterday when it emerged that his former chief of staff, Matthew Hancock (read Rafael's profile of him here), missed an interview on ITV's Daybreak after he overslept. Hancock, who was due to discuss a new apprenticeship scheme for unemployed youths, was reportedly still in bed when his car arrived. The repentant Conservative MP wrote on Twitter: "I got 2 tv studio at 6:41 this am so missed 6:40 slot. You've got to be on time for work or there r consequences. I'll learn from my example".

But this morning Daybreak presenter Matt Barbet accused the skills minister of "spinning" and talking "nonsense". In a tweet addressed to the MP, he wrote: "Appreciate admission about missing us on @daybreak. Everyone oversleeps - but you know you were much more than a minute late."

He later added: "A minute after the interview starts is around 20-30 minutes later than when he should've been in the building preparing.

"Spinning it as if he was stopped from going on-air having just missed the time slot is nonsense."

We await confirmation as to whether Hancock's blinds were down this morning.

Conservative MP and skills minister Matthew Hancock at an interview he made on time.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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Can Philip Hammond save the Conservatives from public anger at their DUP deal?

The Chancellor has the wriggle room to get close to the DUP's spending increase – but emotion matters more than facts in politics.

The magic money tree exists, and it is growing in Northern Ireland. That’s the attack line that Labour will throw at Theresa May in the wake of her £1bn deal with the DUP to keep her party in office.

It’s worth noting that while £1bn is a big deal in terms of Northern Ireland’s budget – just a touch under £10bn in 2016/17 – as far as the total expenditure of the British government goes, it’s peanuts.

The British government spent £778bn last year – we’re talking about spending an amount of money in Northern Ireland over the course of two years that the NHS loses in pen theft over the course of one in England. To match the increase in relative terms, you’d be looking at a £35bn increase in spending.

But, of course, political arguments are about gut instinct rather than actual numbers. The perception that the streets of Antrim are being paved by gold while the public realm in England, Scotland and Wales falls into disrepair is a real danger to the Conservatives.

But the good news for them is that last year Philip Hammond tweaked his targets to give himself greater headroom in case of a Brexit shock. Now the Tories have experienced a shock of a different kind – a Corbyn shock. That shock was partly due to the Labour leader’s good campaign and May’s bad campaign, but it was also powered by anger at cuts to schools and anger among NHS workers at Jeremy Hunt’s stewardship of the NHS. Conservative MPs have already made it clear to May that the party must not go to the country again while defending cuts to school spending.

Hammond can get to slightly under that £35bn and still stick to his targets. That will mean that the DUP still get to rave about their higher-than-average increase, while avoiding another election in which cuts to schools are front-and-centre. But whether that deprives Labour of their “cuts for you, but not for them” attack line is another question entirely. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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