LONDON — He may have led Britain through the horrors of wartime, but there’s one thing Winston Churchill didn’t have to deal with: people reading his WhatsApps.
Minister Ric Holden tried a novel line Tuesday morning as he tried to downplay the damning stream of revelations emerging from Boris Johnson’s former advisers at the U.K.’s coronavirus pandemic inquiry.
A host of WhatsApp messages disclosed to the inquiry and read out this week have so far painted an unfavorable picture of the then-prime minister, described variously as unable to lead, prone to changing direction “every day” and at the helm of a “weak team.”
But Holden, grilled Tuesday morning on the messages on Times Radio, dismissed them as “tittle tattle” — and invoked two former prime ministers in Johnson’s defense.
“If there was conversations between people and they were recorded throughout history as they are on WhatsApp then would it be similarly embarrassing?” Holden asked. “Would Churchill and [Neville] Chamberlain have faced a similar … what their colleagues said about them on X or Y day? I’m absolutely positive they would have done.
“I think that’s tittle tattle. I don’t think that’s the important issue here,” he said.
Holden added: “The important issue at stake is what we can learn as a country from our response.”
The COVID-19 inquiry continues Tuesday with fresh evidence from top former Johnson aides Lee Cain and Dominic Cummings. The ghost of Winston Churchill was not approached for comment.