Nick Abbot 10pm - 1am
Was government asleep at the wheel over coronavirus, Nick Ferrari asks Care Minister
9 June 2020, 08:29 | Updated: 9 June 2020, 08:52
The government followed scientific advice and locked down on 23rd March. MI5 followed the same science and took action in early February. "The government was proven to be asleep at the wheel, wasn't it?" Nick Ferrari tells Care Minister Helen Whately.
Boris Johnson has insisted he listened to the science as he decided to go into lockdown.
But MI5 chief Andrew Parker also listened to the advice of Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance, but decided to take action much sooner.
Speaking to Care Minister Helen Whately, Nick Ferrari asked why the government were so slow to respond.
Ms Whately responded: "At every point, we took advice from the scientists and the SAGE group about what were the appropriate measures to be taken.
"Back then, there was a big debate over whether we should or shouldn't lock down."
But Nick pointed out: "Sir Andrew Parker, who you will be aware, did lead MI5 and has now stepped down, he decided to move to pandemic footing after listening to Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance, the same scientists.
"So he did that for MI5 in early February and the government didn't move until March 23rd.
"Not you personally, Minister, but the government was yet again proven to be asleep at the wheel, wasn't it?"
Ms Whately insisted: "I'm not sure it's a direct comparison between MI5 and the country as a whole.
Nick put to her that perhaps it would have helped if the Prime Minister attended COBRA meetings throughout February.
The Minister responded: "The Prime Minister was absolutely involved the whole way through.
"We took the advice from the scientists, the judgement on the right thing to do at the right point."