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We were hours away from Omicron lockdown and I flew back to stop it, says Sunak

22 July 2022, 00:28

By Will Taylor

Rishi Sunak has claimed he stopped a Covid lockdown at the end of last year, which he believed was "hours away" from being imposed.

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The Omicron variant of coronavirus was spreading quickly in December and many feared the country would be plunged back into tight restrictions - echoing the sudden lockdown imposed a year prior that ruined festive plans.

Mr Sunak, the then-Chancellor, was asked about a website domain registered for his Ready for Rishi campaign previously, sparking suggestions he had long hoped Boris Johnson would go so he could become leader.

He exclusively told LBC's Andrew Marr: "What I did in December was fly back from a Government trip I was on overseas and I flew back to this country to stop us sleepwalking into a national lockdown, because we were hours away from a press conference that was going to lock this country down again because of Omicron.

Read more: 'All the evidence is Liz Truss would lose next election to Labour', Rishi Sunak tells LBC

Read more: Sunak: My family were immigrants but they were allowed here so I back Rwanda plan

"And I came back and fought very hard against the system because I believed that would be the wrong thing for this country, with all the damage it would have done to businesses, to children's education, to people's lives."

He added that his actions had "challenged the system" which showed voters he is "prepared to push hard and fight for the things that I believe in even when that's difficult".

Watch the Rishi Sunak interview in full

In a wide-ranging interview, he also told Andrew Marr that "all the evidence" showed Liz Truss, his rival for the Tory leadership, would lose an election to Labour.

Recent polling has shown Mr Sunak may lose to Ms Truss in the final vote by Tory members as to who should take over the party.

He also claimed that his family's background as immigrants was the reason he believed the Rwanda asylum seeker plan was viable and that he could get it to work.