The row over why the UK failed to sign up to the EU's medical equipment procurement scheme has been resurrected today with an appearance before MPs by the head of the Foreign Office, Sir Simon McDonald.
Last month the government was criticised for not taking part in the scheme to bulk buy medical equipment that could be used to tackle the coronavirus.
Ministers -including Michael Gove- were forced to deny that anti-EU sentiment had played a part in the decision. There were also claims of missing emails and a communication confusion.
But today Sir Simon McDonald,appearing via video link, told MPs it was a deliberate decision by ministers to turn down the invitation from Brussels. "It was a political decision, our mission briefed minsters on what was available, and what was on offer, and the decision is known," he said.
This prompted a robust response from the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, at the Downing Street news conference. He said that he had spoken to the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, and as far as he knew there had been no political decision not to participate.
He revealed that he had now accepted an invitation from the EU to join that particular scheme which he said had not yet delivered a single item of medical equipment.
And Whitehall sources have since suggested Sir Simon "misspoke" and that a clarification of his remarks will be forthcoming.