Rishi Sunak has admitted that he was against a lockdown in England in September and insisted that it was “not a clear case”.
Ministers last year were charged with ignoring scientific advice after Sage (Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies) recommended a lockdown at a September 21 meeting to slow the spread of Covid-19.
In an interview with ITV’s Robert Peston, the Chancellor also said that all decisions made will “ultimately” be made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
When asked if he would admit to defying the ban, he said, “Remember what my job is.
“Everyone in the cabinet has the job of giving the prime minister the best possible advice in his or her area of expertise.
“Just as you would expect the Minister of Education to consider the impact on children’s education and learning in this regard.
“And you would expect me to speak in my job about the impact on jobs and people’s livelihoods, and ultimately, things that are bad for the economy are bad for our long-term health and our ability to do things like the NHS finance.”
“And these things have to flow into the decision.
“These are difficult choices and so we are weighing all of these factors.
“And at the time it wasn’t a clear case.”
Mr. Sunak said the “tradeoffs” in decision-making should not be underestimated.
He said, “I think all of these decisions are ultimately what the Prime Minister makes.
“It’s incredibly difficult to make decisions.
“And I’ve seen him wrestle with these things every day over the past year.
“And our job at the cabinet table is to give him input from all of our different perspectives and the departments for which we are responsible.
“And he has to weigh these things and they are hugely difficult decisions and I don’t think we should underestimate the tradeoffs that come with all of these things.
“But by and large, I think, as we see now with the launch of the vaccine, hopefully people can look forward to the safe reopening of our economy and our country with confidence and optimism.”
“And slowly normalize our lives again.”
When asked about the prospect of a quick economic recovery after the effects of the pandemic, the Chancellor said: “I am confident that we are in a good position to make a strong recovery.
“And partly with the introduction of vaccines, which is going very well and enabling us to take these steps to safely reopen our economy in the coming weeks and months.
“And I know that companies can hardly do anything about it.
“And hopefully the support we gave them enabled them to get through this period.
“And now, when they’re open again, hopefully we can get things back.”