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30 November 2023

Boris Johnson to face Covid-19 inquiry over two days

30 November 2023

Boris Johnson will face two days of questioning over his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic when he appears at the public inquiry next week.

The former prime minister’s style of government at the height of the crisis has been sharply criticised from colleagues working in No 10.

But Mr Johnson is expected to defend his approach in tackling the coronavirus outbreak when he gives evidence on Wednesday and Thursday.

The then prime minister became seriously ill with Covid-19 in April 2020 and spent time in intensive care.

But he has faced claims he viewed the disease as “nature’s way of dealing with old people”.

His handling of the unprecedented peacetime crisis has been questioned by some of those closest to him at the time.

Former No 10 insiders, notably Mr Johnson’s ex-aide Dominic Cummings – with whom he has had a bitter falling out – have laid bare the sometimes chaotic way his administration worked.

And aides suggested he viewed Covid-19 as “nature’s way of dealing with old people”.

Former No 10 communications director Lee Cain admitted that his former boss’s erratic decision-making was “rather exhausting”.

And in WhatsApp messages shared with the inquiry, the UK’s top civil servant Simon Case said that Mr Johnson “cannot lead” and was making government “impossible”.

Mr Cummings dubbed Mr Johnson “the trolley” for his habit of veering from one position to another.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser during the pandemic, wrote about his own frustrations in dealing with Mr Johnson in his diaries.

The adviser wrote in August 2020 that Mr Johnson was “obsessed with older people accepting their fate and letting the young get on with life and the economy going”.

Then, in December 2020, Sir Patrick wrote that Mr Johnson said “his party ‘thinks the whole thing is pathetic and Covid is just nature’s way of dealing with old people – and I am not entirely sure I disagree with them'”.

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