United Kingdom

Matt Hancock ducks saying whether Britons should snitch on their neighbours

Matt Hancock today desperately dodged saying whether Britons should snitch on their neighbours for flouting the 'Rule of Six'.

The Health Secretary insisted that the UK is facing a 'big moment' with Covid cases rising and the threat of another national lockdown.

But he repeatedly refused to answer when challenged on when people should call the police to report breaches of the new law limiting social gatherings.

The evasion came after Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel sent starkly different messages about the responsibility on neighbours.

Social gatherings of more than six people were made illegal indoors and outdoors on Monday, punishable with fines of up to £3,200 and potentially criminal records.

Ms Patel said earlier this week that she personally was ready to report her own local community if there were rule breaches. 

But in an interview yesterday, Mr Johnson said: 'I have never much been in favour of sneak culture, myself.

'What people should do in the first instance is obviously if they are concerned is raise it with their friends and neighbours.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock (left on BBC Breakfast today) desperately dodged saying whether Britons should snitch on their neighbours for flouting the 'Rule of Six'. Boris Johnson (right) has said Britons should not call the police unless they are having a huge 'Animal House' type party

'But I think what is reasonable for anyone to do is if they think there is a serious threat to public health as a result of their neighbours' activities – if there is some huge kind of Animal House party taking place, as I am sure, hot tubs and so forth, and there is a serious threat to public health then its reasonable for the authorities to know.'

Animal House is a 1978 American comedy which marked John Belushi's film debut as a hard-partying college fraternity member. 

Pressed on the issue on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Hancock refused to give a clear answer.

'Everybody should follow the rules,' he said.

Pushed again over whether people should shop their neighbours, he replied: 'Of course, in the normal way, people should follow the law.'

He went on: 'My point is as Health Secretary I am saying to the nation, we have all got to follow the rules. It is deadly serious. The results of not doing will be this goes more out of control.'

Told that he seemed to be backing the Home Office's stance rather than the softer line from Mr Johnson, Mr Hancock said: 'No... These are very serious times... 

'People need to follow the Rule of Six, full stop.' 

The Prime Minister mentioned the party film Animal House in his advice to the nation

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