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Matt Hancock wanted to "deploy" a new Covid variant to "frighten the pants off" the public, leaked WhatsApp messages reveal.
The former health secretary hatched the plan, known as Project Fear, in a bid to get people to stick to lockdown restrictions, the Telegraph reports.
In a message to Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, Hancock said "the fear/guilt factor" was "vital" to "ramping up the messaging" ahead of the third national lockdown, which took over the nation at the start of 2021.
A month prior, Hancock had seemingly suggested that a new strain of Covid would be helpful to spread fear among the population in preparation for more restrictions.
Hancock said: "We frighten the pants off everyone with the new strain," to which the Department of Health's media advisor Damon Poole responded: "Yep, that's what will get proper behaviour [sic] change."
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