Great Britain

Coronavirus: Boris Johnson rejects demands for immediate inquiry into government’s handling of pandemic

Boris Johnson has rejected mounting demands for an immediate inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, telling MPs it must wait until after the current crisis.

With NHS hospitals facing immense pressures, the prime minister told the Commons that it would not be “sensible” to divert government resources away from the fight against Covid-19.

Challenged at prime minister’s questions as the latest data showed the UK now has the highest death rate per capita, Mr Johnson dismissed a call from the Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey to launch the inquiry this year.

“The NHS is under unprecedented pressure, the entire British state is trying to fight Covid and trying to roll out the biggest vaccination programme in the history of our country,” Mr Johnson replied.

He added: "The idea that we should now concentrate state resources, vast state resources, to an inquiry now in the middle of the pandemic does not I think seem sensible to me, and I don't believe it would seem sensible to members of the House.

"Of course, we will learn lessons in due course and, of course, there will be a time to reflect and to prepare for the next pandemic."

Speaking to The Independent last week, Sir Ed stressed the government could begin preparatory work for an independent inquiry immediately, by outlining its remit, establishing a timeframe and beginning the process to appoint an chair to oversee the proceedings.

Major questions remain over the format of an independent inquiry, including whether it will be established under the 2005 Inquires Act — on a statutory footing —  which will have the power to compel witnesses to give evidence, or a non-statutory basis similar to the Chilcot inquiry into the 2003 Iraq invasion.

The Labour leader added at the weekend: “The government failed to learn lessons from the first phase of the pandemic. The tragic result is that Britain has now suffered more deaths during the second wave than the first.

“Every life lost to this virus is a family shattered. The prime minister promised an independent inquiry, and those families deserve to know when it will start.”

Football news:

Man City have not lost in 27 consecutive games. Best streak since 2017
Guardiola has 200 wins in 273 games at the helm of Man City. Mourinho has so many wins in 309 games with Chelsea
Paul Pogba: We need to help people. Today I'm Paul Pogba, tomorrow I'm nobody. You need to use influence
De Bruyne came in 10th in the history of the Premier League in the number of assists - 77. The leading Giggs - 162
Willian: I really wanted to stay at Chelsea. Leaving for Arsenal is a difficult decision, there is a serious rivalry between the clubs
Kane will not leave Tottenham this summer. Clubs do not have the money for such large deals
Antonio Conte: The fans of our rivals said that Conte should be kicked out of Inter. It would help them