RISHI Sunak has claimed that scientists were given too much influence over decisions on coronavirus lockdowns.

The former chancellor felt that there was not enough consideration given to the social and economic impact of the pandemic.

He said he “wasn’t allowed to talk about the trade-off” during the early phases of the pandemic and claimed the Goverment's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) edited its minutes to hide any dissenting opinions.

In an interview with The Spectator, the Tory leadership hopeful said he was often a lone voice of resistance within the Government.

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He said “we shouldn’t have empowered scientists in the way we did” and added he had been left “furious” during a meeting because colleagues were refusing to acknowledge the wider impact lockdowns were having.

Sunak continued: “We didn’t talk at all about missed [doctors] appointments, or the backlog building in the NHS in a massive way. That was never part of it.”

He added the meetings were “literally me around that table, just fighting”, which “was incredibly uncomfortable every single time”.

At one particular meeting, he raised the impact on children’s education: “I was very emotional about it. I was like, ‘forget about the economy. Surely we can all agree that kids not being in school is a major nightmare’, or something like that.

“There was a big silence afterwards. It was the first time someone had said it. I was so furious.”

Sunak continued to set out the problems he felt occurred with Government policy being influenced by outside academics.

He said: “If you empower all these independent people you’re screwed.”

The Tory leadership candidate added that if the trade-offs had been acknowledged from the beginning of March 2020 when the first lockdown hit then different decisions could have been made.

He said: “We shouldn’t have empowered scientists in the way we did.

“And you have to acknowledge trade-offs from the beginning. If we’d done all of that, we could be in a very different place.”

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He suggested other decisions could have led to the lockdown being shorter.

Sunak suggested that minutes of Sage meetings, setting out discussions on guidance for ministers, had omitted dissenting views.

He claimed the members of the panel did not realise there was a Treasury representative on their calls, feeding information back to him.

He said the representative would tell him: “’Well, actually, it turns out that lots of people disagreed with that conclusion’, or ‘here are the reasons that they were not sure about it’. So at least I would be able to go into these meetings better armed.”