MINISTERS who gave contracts for Covid work to close associates have defended themselves by saying they were only guilty of being great friends.
Matt Hancock admitted that he could have asked the NHS to run test-and-trace rather than Baroness Dido Harding, but that he chose to put friendship before efficiency and would not apologise for that.
He said: “Surely at a time like this, with a pandemic sweeping Britain and none of us knowing if we’ll even see next year, our friends are more important than ever.
“But it’s like our critics want it outlawed. Why? What on earth could be wrong with sticking by your mates through thick and thin?
“For the avoidance of doubt, and to reassure people that the jobs will be done well, I’m happy to be transparent about this: me and these guys ski together, we shoot together, we went to school together. They’re solid guys.
“Some mates give each other cigarettes or lifts to the train station, we give our friends key government jobs worth tens of millions and ask them to do vital public health work they’re not especially qualified to do. Not ashamed of that.
“We didn’t put the Covid contracts out to tender because we’re guided by the core value of trusting our buds. And I pity you if you don’t feel the same.”