Prime Minister launches investigation after furlough extension leaked -UK
Boris Johnson has launched a second leak inquiry in less than a week, after details of the chancellor’s extension of the furlough scheme appeared in newspapers before their announcement in the Commons.
Rishi Sunak on Thursday extended the furlough scheme until March for businesses unable to operate during lockdown, while the BoE announced it would buy £150bn of government bonds to boost spending.
Details of both events appeared in news outlets on Thursday morning, before MPs were briefed.
Number 10 is investigating how news of the extension, and of quantitative easing by the Bank of England, popped up in news sites including the BBC and the Telegraph prior to their official launch.
The second inquiry follows an investigation launched by the PM after news of England’s second national lockdown appeared in the Sun and the Times before it was announced, forcing Johnson to bring forward his press conference by two days.
Plans are thought to have been leaked from a secret ministerial meeting involving Sunak, Michael Gove and Matt Hancock last Friday.
Johnson is understood to have been furious about having to rush forward lockdown plans, despite many details still being finalised.
Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, denied involvement or knowledge of the source of the leak.
An inquiry into the matter by the Cabinet Office has yet to identify a culprit.
Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle condemned the practice of leaking information to newspapers, and amped up pressure for Johnson to crack down on close ties between the lobby and MPs.
“I hope that if the leaker is identified and a member of this House, that member will make a full apology to the House for the discourteous and unacceptable behaviour,” he told the Telegraph.
Number 10 did not respond to requests for comment.