Boris Johnson 'to apologise at Covid Inquiry and admit mistakes' in next week's showdown

1 December 2023, 21:52

Boris Johnson is due to apologise at the Covid Inquiry next week
Boris Johnson is due to apologise at the Covid Inquiry next week. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Boris Johnson will admit he "unquestionably made mistakes" at the Covid Inquiry next week.

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The former prime minister is set to make an unreserved apology but defend his actions, saying he made choices that saved hundreds of thousands of people.

He will admit he was too complacent at the beginning on the pandemic, a time when he boasted of shaking hands with Covid patients - something he will say he regrets.

Mr Johnson will say there was an expectation things would work out because past threats like Sars never became major problems in the UK, according to The Times.

However, he will insist that the government managed to stop the NHS getting overwhelmed with patients, that the three lockdowns may have saved hundreds of thousands of people, and point out the success of the vaccination scheme.

Mr Johnson will claim Professor Sir Chris Whitty talked about lockdown on February 28 2020, but he was key in promoting a delay in the measures being imposed, as they were the following month. This was due to a fear that long-term restrictions would not be adhered to by the public as fatigue set in.

Read more: Ex-Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson says he is still alive after Matt Hancock bizarrely announces his death in Covid Inquiry

Boris Johnson will admit to Covid mistakes
Boris Johnson will admit to Covid mistakes. Picture: Alamy

A denial that he wanted to let Covid spread to create herd immunity rather than impose a serious lockdown will also be issued, though he will accept he viewed achieving it as "desirable".

He will face the inquiry next week, in the wake of damning testimony from his senior adviser-turned-enemy Dominic Cummings, and after his health secretary Matt Hancock claimed he had tried to beef up measures against Covid.

The inquiry itself was announced by Mr Johnson when he was at No10.

"Boris Johnson will be at the Covid inquiry next week and is looking forward to assisting the inquiry with its important work," a spokesman for him said.

Read more: Michael Gove apologises to bereaved families for government mistakes during Covid

Mr Johnson is due to appear at the Covid Inquiry
Mr Johnson is due to appear at the Covid Inquiry. Picture: Alamy

Among the key witnesses for in the inquiry, Mr Cummings said he was "reflecting a widespread view amongst competent people at the centre of power" when he described Boris Johnson's cabinet as including "useless f***pigs" and "morons".

Michael Gove, who was Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster during the pandemic, has apologised to bereaved families for government mistakes, saying politicians are "human beings, we're fallible".

And this week, Mr Hancock claimed Mr Cummings created a "culture of fear" and dismissed claims from other key figures who have spoken at the inquiry that he lied.

During his evidence session on Friday, Mr Hancock said school shutdowns in January 2021 could have been avoided if a lockdown had been imposed months earlier.

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