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Saturday November 27, 2021

Johnson promises probe into virus response

By Pa
July 16, 2020

LONDON: Boris Johnson has committed to an independent inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Prime Minister told MPs he does not believe now is the right time for such an investigation but it will “certainly” happen in the future. Downing Street was unable to give any further details about the nature of the inquiry when pressed on whether it will be judge-led or when it will begin.

Instead, a No 10 spokesman said: “It’s an independent inquiry. I haven’t got any more detail for you on how it would work. We will set that out in due course.”

Speaking in the Commons earlier, Liberal Democrat acting co-leader Sir Ed Davey said: “Under this PM we suffered one of the worst death rates in the world and Europe’s worst death rate for health and care workers.

“Previously he’s refused my demand for an immediate independent inquiry, saying it’s too soon, even though back in 2003 he voted for an independent inquiry into the Iraq war just months after that conflict had started.

“If he still rejects an immediate inquiry, will he instead commit in principle to a future public inquiry, yes or no?”

Johnson replied: “As I’ve told the House several times, I do not believe that now in the middle of combating, still as we are, a pandemic is the right moment to devote huge amounts of official time to an inquiry, but of course we will seek to learn the lessons of this pandemic in the future and certainly we will have an independent inquiry into what happened.”

Labour’s Tracy Brabin (Batley and Spen) also called for daily postcode-level data to be released on coronavirus cases. Brabin said: “Could I ask the Prime Minister to help us in the councils and the communities like Batley and Spen? Can we have daily postcode data and also can the Prime Minister commit to a package of support so that businesses can close and individuals can do the right thing to benefit all of us?”

Johnson replied: “Well yes of course, we’re committing to sharing as much data as we have with councils so that they can get on, at a local level, as they have been, dealing with the pandemic.”

He added: “And we will continue to support councils up and down the land as they engage in local action to make sure the whole country can start to get back to work.”

Meanwhile, chairman of the Conservative Party 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, put pressure on the government to review its guidance on working from home. Sir Graham said: “Some people are anxious to return to work and some people find that they are actually as happy and productive at home working as they would be at the office.

“But does the Prime Minister agree with me that the worst reason for staying at home is to follow blanket government advice that takes no account of safety and will he commit to revising the government advice urgently?”

Johnson replied: “As I’m sure he knows from studying the government advice, (Sir Graham) will see that it is… we say very clearly it is important that business should be carried on and that employers should decide in consultation with their workers whether it is safe for their workers to come in, for those workers to come in to work or whether they should continue working from home.

“I happen to think that employers in this country have made huge strides in getting our workplaces safe and that is the message that I think that we should all be conveying.”