Boris Johnson has been widely criticised for his handling of the pandemic (Picture: EPA/Reuters/Getty)
The Prime Minister has pledged that there will be ‘full inquiry’ into the coronavirus crisis.
Boris Johnson said there will come a time for the ‘learning of lessons’, but that it was not right now, with infection rates stubbornly high, the NHS ‘battling heroically’ and ‘the whole of British officialdom really fighting to control and defeat coronavirus’.
An inquiry into the Government’s handling of the pandemic would see officials heavily scrutinise decisions ministers made throughout the crisis and whether it contributed to the UK’s huge death toll, infection rate and unprecedented strain on the NHS.
Speaking at Wednesday’s Downing Street press conference, Mr Johnson said: ‘There will come a time, obviously, for the learning of lessons, and there will be a full inquiry into everything, a moment to reflect, understand and prepare.
‘I don’t think it’s the right use of official time at the moment, but that moment surely will come.’
A petition calling for a public inquiry into the crisis was signed by more than 22,000 people.
It argued: ‘The Government should hold a Public Inquiry to Confirm what decisions were made around preventing the spread of the coronavirus and protection of the UK population, and how this was balanced with the level of health care services available and effects on the economy.’
Earlier, the PM had said that now is not the moment to learn lessons while 37,000 people are still in hospital.
He had been asked by Labour Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs why the country had such a high death toll compared to other nations.
Britain has fared far worse on both its death toll and economic hit from the crisis compared to virtually every other developed nation.
It came after Mr Johnson claimed on Tuesday that his Government did ‘everything we could’ to prevent more people dying, as the official death toll topped 100,000.
But since then the PM has faced renewed criticism about a number of decisions made during the pandemic.
The Financial Times’ Jim Pickard asked the PM about whether a host of Government policies could be seen as mistakes in hind sight.
Those includes locking down too late, not shutting the borders earlier, failing to sack Dominic Cummings after his lockdown trip to Barnard Castle, going against scientific advise by not implementing a circuit-breaker lockdown in the autumn, and allowing Christmas bubbles to be formed.
Mr Johnson responded: ‘Of course I take full responsibility for everything, and all I would say, humbly and respectfully, to those who make criticisms of what the Government and all our colleagues have been trying to do, is that in situations like this, where you have such very, very brutal and difficult dilemmas, there are no easy answers, and very often there are no good answers at all
‘The Government has done its best, as I say, to protect life and to minimise suffering and we’re going to continue to do that.’
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