Who is ‘Lynn from Skipton’? The public ridicule No 10 for selecting soft question about hugging from anonymous ‘member of the public’ at Downing Street press conference
- Lynn for Skipton was the first non-journalist given the chance to grill ministers
- Question raised eyebrows as it indulged Matt Hancock to churn out core refrains
- Some joked Lynn was an alias of chief Downing Street aide Dominic Cummings
- **Do you know Lynn from Skipton? Email firstname.lastname@example.org**
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Downing Street’s coronavirus press conference drew scorn today after a member of the public was selected to ask an easy question about hugging.
Lynn from Skipton was the first non-journalist given the chance to grill ministers and health officials at the daily briefings as part of a transparency drive by Number 10.
But her softball question raised eyebrows after it indulged Matt Hancock the opportunity to churn out the government’s central refrains such as urging people to stay at home.
Social media was quickly set alight with tongue-in-cheek remarks ‘Lynn from Skipton’ was actually a Downing Street insider, with some joking it is an alias of Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s chief adviser.
Private polling company YouGov had sifted through 15,000 questions to select Lynn’s question, which the Health Secretary insisted he had never seen before.
He read the question from a screen, which said: ‘I am missing my grandchildren so much.
‘Please can you let me know if after the five criteria are met is being able to hug our close family one of the first steps out of lockdown.’
Over past week, ministers taking to the airwaves have constantly rammed home the importance of sticking to the government’s five tests as a benchmark for relaxing restrictions.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock answering Lynn from Skipton’s question at the Number 10 briefing
Social media was quickly set alight with tongue-in-cheek remarks ‘Lynn from Skipton’ was actually a Downing Street insider with some joking it is an alias of Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s chief adviser
There was dismay that the government was getting away with answering tough questions
Mr Hancock hailed the ‘incredibly good question, an incredibly important one that brings home the emotional impact of the lockdown measures.’
He first invited a response from chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, who said it would depend on the circumstances and that elderly people should consider their situation before putting themselves at risk.
Then the Health Secretary, looking directly at the screen, agreed it was ‘one of the most natural things in the world to want to hug your family…and that the best way we can get there fastest is for people to follow the rules so we can get those five criteria met’.
Many of the public praised Lynn for cutting through with a question showcasing the human struggles felt during life under lockdown.
But there was equal dismay that the government was getting away with answering tough questions.
Lynn from Skipton’s softball question raised eyebrows after it indulged Matt Hancock opportunity to churn out the government’s central refrains such as urging people to stay at home
Camilla tweeted: ‘The public question of the day from Lynn in Skipton is about whether hugging is possible post-lockdown? Really, Lynn!?
‘Call me heartless but if you can’t see this is a time wasting exercise from the government then you’re a gaslit moron. Ask better questions people!’
Others joked that Lynn was really a Downing Street insider such as Boris Johnson’s top aide Mr Cummings.
David Goodall tweeted: Lynn from Skipton is probably a Spad (special adviser) in a cupboard doing Cummings’ bidding.’
Colin Owen wrote: ‘”Lynn in Skipton” let them off the hook. Maybe “Pam from Barnsley” can do better tomorrow?”‘
After answering Lynn’s question, Mr Hancock said: ‘I think that’s shown that the questions from the members of the public and just as difficult to answer as questions from journalists who are trained to ask them.’
Many of the public praised Lynn for cutting through with a question showcasing the human struggles felt during life under lockdown
The daily 5pm press conferences have become a staple of the coronavirus crisis, with reporters grilling ministers over issues such as personal protective equipment shortages.
The selected questioner from the public will be informed by 3pm, two hours ahead of the usual press conference time.
They will then be given the choice of either filming themselves asking the question, with the footage played during the press conference, or having their question read out.
Anyone over 18 can use an online form to submit their question for consideration.
The drawing of questions from members of the public echoes the early days of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party where he often relayed messages from citizens at Prime Ministers Questions.