The danger for Rishi Sunak is that the evidence presented at the inquiry undermines his attempt to present himself as a change from Johnson’s chaotic leadership, even though he was one of the most senior ministers in that government . Photo file.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reportedly said the government should “just let people die” during the COVID-19 pandemic rather than impose a second national lockdown, according to Monday’s inquiry into how Britain managed the global health crisis.
Patrick Vallance, who was the government’s chief scientific adviser during the COVID-19 crisis, noted in his diary on October 25, 2020, a meeting between then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Sunak, who was minister for Finance.
The diary entry shown to the inquest recorded how Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s most senior adviser during the pandemic, had relayed to Vallance what he said he had heard at the meeting.
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Vallance quoted Cummings in his diary as saying: “Rishi thinks it’s enough to let people die and that’s OK. This all looks like a complete lack of leadership.
A spokesman for Sunak said the Prime Minister would set out his position when he gives evidence to the inquiry “rather than responding to everyone in a piecemeal manner”.
The inquiry is examining the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic which has paralyzed large parts of the economy and killed more than 220,000 people in Britain. It is expected to last until summer 2026.
Senior government officials have repeatedly said the government was unprepared for the pandemic and that a “toxic” and “macho” culture was hampering the response to the health crisis.
The danger for Sunak is that the evidence presented at the inquiry undermines his attempt to portray himself as a change in Johnson’s chaotic leadership, even though he was one of the most senior ministers in that government.
Previous evidence showed he was branded “Dr. Mort” by a government scientific adviser because of his “Eat Out to Help Out” policy in summer 2020, which subsidized meals in pubs and restaurants but has been criticized by health experts for spreading the virus.