United Kingdom

Boris Johnson told his Cabinet he does not want 'another Chilcot Inquiry'

Boris Johnson told his Cabinet that he does not want ‘another Chilcot Inquiry’ before they signed off a probe into the Government’s handling of the pandemic.

The Prime Minister warned against the Covid inquiry dragging on for nearly a decade. 

He was speaking in response to a question from Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey on ‘how long’ it will take, sources said.

Boris Johnson warned against the Covid inquiry dragging on for nearly a decade

In the meeting last week, Ministers decided the independent public inquiry will start in Spring 2022. Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the war in Iraq lasted seven years and cost £13 million. 

When it was launched, then-Tory leader David Cameron called it an ‘establishment stitch-up’.

Last night a Downing Street source said: ‘The terms of reference need to be established, but there is a desire to conduct the inquiry quickly, but without forgoing thoroughness.’

Another insider said the Prime Minister wanted Covid to be ‘fresh in people’s minds when they are interviewed’.

Meanwhile, a Government source warned the inquiry ‘will be a lawyer-fest’, referring to the high fees typically charged.

Mr Johnson said the inquiry will ‘place the state’s actions under the microscope’. Announcing it in the Commons he said: ‘The state has an obligation to examine its actions as rigorously and candidly as possible, and to learn every lesson for the future.’

The Prime Minister was speaking in response to a question from Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, pictured, on ‘how long’ it will take, sources said

No 10 told reporters the inquiry would have legal powers to compel witnesses to give evidence. Individual offices could be requested to hand over written and electronic communication. The terms of reference of the inquiry are yet to be set, and the Government will select who chairs it – although they are legally obliged to be independent.The Prime Minister has not committed to the inquiry being led by a judge.

William Wragg, the Conservative MP who chairs the public administration and constitutional affairs select committee, last week said it should have ‘the fullest scope, given the extensive impacts of the pandemic.’

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