UK lockdown: Gove squirms as Hartley-Brewer challenges on ‘how many deaths’ acceptable

Michael Gove grilled by host on 'target' number of deaths

Michael Gove refused to provide a figure during in a heated exchange with talkRADIO host Julia Hartley-Brewer as she questioned the Cabinet Minister on the how many coronavirus deaths would need to be reached before the Government would consider lifting restrictions. Ms Hartley-Brewer asked: “What is the acceptable level of deaths from coronavirus that means we get our freedoms back and are children get their education back?”


Mr Gove answered: “We want to make sure as many people as possible are as safe as possible and the quicker we can vaccinate people the more freedoms we can return to.”

The host interjected: “Right, let’s get to a number then. We are never going to have one hundred per cent safety. Even with the flu jab we don’t have one hundred per cent safety from flu do we.

“Coronavirus we know is more deadly than flu. We are never going to have zero Covid. So a hundred per cent of people being at risk, the vast majority of people who are most at risk are in their over-seventies.

“Once they have had the jab what number of people dying a day will mean we will get out freedoms back.”

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Mr Gove continued: “Again I won’t make a judgement or prediction now. I think that the most important thing is to make sure we can do everything possible to get those freedoms back by concentrating on vaccinating as many people as possible. 

“That is the aim the government has.”

Ms Hartley-Brewer responded saying: “Yes the aim of the government is to vaccinate as many people as possible. The purpose of that is to safe as many lives as possible.

“Once we have saved as many lives as we can possibly do, certainly for the over-seventies who are most at risk as I keep pointing out, at that point, we will have a lower number of people who are dying,

“What is the number of people who die from Covid that will mean it is acceptable for the rest of us to get our freedoms back.”

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Mr Gove said: “We will be looking at the pressure overall on the NHS because again one of the things we have discussed in the past is the more people in hospital with Covid, and mercifully the treatment now means people who are in hospital now have a higher likelihood of survival,

“But the more people who are in hospital with Covid the less available the NHS is for others and the less available NHS resources are for other conditions.

“So what we need to do is balance our ability to treat those who are in pain and who have serious conditions with the spread of the virus.”

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Ms Hartley-Brewer once again interrupted the cabinet minister asking: “So now it’s not about deaths, now we have moved the goalposts. 

“Now it’s the number of people in hospitals.”

It comes as Mr Gove’s Brexiteer colleague David Davis warned that the UK Government’s lockdown could last until April as coronavirus cases continue to surge across Britain.

The former Brexit Secretary warned of the damage that extending the lockdown into the early summer will do to the UK economy. 

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