Bringing You the Daily Dispatch


Reworded: Ten inquiries about Covid that Boris Johnson is facing.

For what will he apologize?

Johnson is expected to issue an apology during the inquiry, acknowledging that the government did not act quickly enough in recognizing the seriousness of the virus and pointing to a lack of readiness as the cause.

Can he acknowledge that he was overly confident during the initial weeks? And will he say sorry for his behavior towards the consequences for elderly individuals?

The investigation has received consistent testimony stating that Johnson believed too much effort was being put into safeguarding older individuals. At a certain moment, the primary scientific advisor for the government, Sir Patrick Vallance, remarked that Johnson was fixated on older generations accepting their circumstances and allowing younger generations to continue with their lives.

Was he not serious enough about Covid in the beginning?

Multiple recommendations have been made that Johnson failed to recognize the risks as concerns about Covid escalated in early 2020. One government representative disclosed during the investigation that he thought Johnson questioned, in the initial stages of the pandemic, “Why are we sacrificing the economy for individuals who will likely die soon regardless?”

The former prime minister did not chair a meeting of the Cobra emergency group until March. Even in late March, his diary suggests he spent time meeting media mogul Evgeny Lebedev, who he later made a peer. Matt Hancock has said that locking down sooner would have saved “many, many lives”.

Did he take a vacation during a crucial period?

According to the Cabinet minutes, Johnson expressed the belief that “confidence is contagious” before going on vacation in February 2020, despite concerns from scientists about the strain on the NHS. Was his decision to go on holiday during a critical time a sign of overconfidence?

Dominic Cummings, former special advisor to Johnson, arrives at the Covid inquiry on 31 October 2023.

The investigation revealed that Johnson did not engage in any communication with officials for 10 days during the half-term break.

Johnson’s previous counselor, Dominic Cummings, has alleged that he left to work on a book about Shakespeare for which he had already received payment. Johnson refutes these claims.

Is he currently repenting for the party lifestyle in Downing Street?

Previous investigations have looked into the partygate controversy, with reports of “wine time” Fridays and Johnson being penalized for violating regulations.

The Covid investigation has received further incriminating testimony regarding the prevalent disregard for rules in Downing Street during the pandemic. According to Helen MacNamara, a high-ranking government official at the time, it is probable that Covid guidelines were violated on a daily basis.

In the end, Johnson held the highest authority and information about violating rules and excessive alcohol consumption surfaced despite repeatedly denying any rule violations.

Was Johnson’s understanding of the science behind Covid incorrect?

One of the shocking statements made by Cummings during his testimony included a concerning detail about Johnson’s understanding of the scientific approach to addressing Covid.

According to Cummings, the ex-Prime Minister inquired with his top medical and scientific advisors about the feasibility of eliminating Covid by using a hairdryer in the nose, inspired by something he came across on the internet. Cummings refers to this incident as a “low point.”

According to Vallance, Johnson’s last experience with science was at the age of 15 and he “would readily acknowledge that it wasn’t his strong suit.” He also mentioned that Johnson would occasionally feign ignorance in order to explore other possibilities.

Is he now acknowledging that he said “let the bodies pile high”?

News of the Prime Minister allegedly stating that the government should allow for a high number of deaths in the fall of 2020 has been circulating for some time. Johnson has previously denied these claims as completely false. However, the statement has gained more credibility after one of Johnson’s longtime supporters, his former chief of staff Lord Udny-Lister, confirmed during an inquiry that Johnson did make the statement in the context of opposing a third nationwide lockdown. Lister stated that he personally heard the outburst during a meeting in September 2020 and attributed it to being said under intense pressure.

Was the toxic atmosphere in his residence at No 10 Downing Street a hindrance to the fight against Covid?

Former deputy cabinet secretary Helen MacNamara giving evidence at the inquiry.

It is evident that there were significant conflicts between government officials and politicians during the pandemic. MacNamara stated that there was a negative and harmful environment present. Despite Cummings advocating for a more stringent response to Covid, he has also been criticized for contributing to a toxic atmosphere by insulting MacNamara and making aggressive remarks about her. Lister mentioned that certain individuals played a role in creating a highly toxic environment, specifically pointing out Cummings’ strained relationships with others. The question remains, why did Johnson allow this culture to continue?

Could he have taken action earlier to keep schools from closing?

The decision to close schools during the pandemic has had a significant impact on children, particularly those from low-income families and disadvantaged areas. The handling of this issue has been a major concern. Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England during the Covid outbreak, has expressed her belief that the government made a serious error by allowing pubs and hairdressers to reopen before schools after the first lockdown. In contrast, Hancock argues that if the prime minister had ordered an earlier lockdown in winter, the closure of schools again in January 2021 could have been avoided. Schools have also faced challenges in providing adequate resources for teaching during this time.

Is Johnson currently considering the effectiveness of the ‘eat out to help out’ initiative?

The investigation also presents Johnson with a chance to create difficulties for Rishi Sunak, whom he holds primarily responsible for the downfall of his leadership. Though it may not have had a major influence on the pandemic’s trajectory, government scientific advisors have expressed their belief that the “eat out to help out” program was unwise and would contribute to the spread of the virus. The plan was devised by the Treasury. Ultimately, Johnson was the leader of the government that authorized it, but any efforts to raise challenging inquiries for Sunak will be closely watched in Westminster.

Why did he delay in taking advice from scientific experts about implementing a second lockdown?

During the fall of 2020, as the number of Covid cases increased, Johnson arranged a significant gathering to discuss the potential implementation of a “circuit breaker” lockdown. Among those in attendance were Carl Heneghan, a professor at Oxford and a critic of lockdowns, and Dr Anders Tegnell, who oversaw Sweden’s response without implementing lockdown measures. Recently released WhatsApp messages reveal that government advisors were distressed about Johnson’s handling of the situation. There were concerns about his approach, with cabinet secretary Simon Case stating in September 2020: “He is unable to lead and we cannot support him in leading with this approach.”

Source: theguardian.com