Boris Johnson to face more questions at UK Covid inquiry – live | Covid inquiry #Boris #Johnson #face #questions #Covid #inquiry #live #Covid #inquiry

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Analysis: we saw Johnson on his best behaviour yesterday – but it won’t do him any good

Pippa Crerar

Pippa Crerar

When Boris Johnson arrived three hours early for his long-awaited evidence session at the Covid inquiry on Wednesday morning, it was still dark outside, leading one minister to joke that “it’s the first time Boris has ever been early for anything”.

Johnson’s promptness – which meant he avoided the families of some of those who died during the pandemic gathering outside – was not an indication that he had turned over a new leaf, rather that he wanted to avoid all the negative headlines he possibly could.

The former prime minister is acutely aware that his first appearance in front of the official inquiry is a key moment in shaping his long-term legacy – particularly as his friends claim that he still harbours hopes of making a political comeback.

In previous weeks the inquiry has been painted – in the words of its lead counsel, Hugo Keith KC – “an appalling picture of incompetence and disarray” at the heart of his government. He has been described by a string of advisers as indecisive and lacking in leadership, and even as a “trolley” veering from one position to another.

So this was always going to be a perilous moment for Johnson, with his government facing criticism for its slow initial response to the pandemic, decisions such as discharging patients from hospitals into care homes, schemes such as ‘“eat out to help out” and delays in locking down the country a second time.

Read on here:

Peter Walker

Peter Walker

In a full day of questioning by the inquiry’s lead counsel, Hugo Keith KC, Johnson frequently said he couldn’t recall meetings or what he had been told by his ministers and advisers.

In a version of events described as “deluded” by one bereaved relative watching in the room, Johnson rejected yet more evidence of bitter internal warfare involving officials, notably his then chief adviser, Dominic Cummings.

While conceding some errors over the outbreak of the virus, saying there were “clearly things we could and should have done if we had known and understood how fast it was spreading”, Johnson insisted these lessons were only apparent in retrospect.

He faces Keith for a second session shortly, when he will be challenged over delays to locking down the country for a second time, ahead of Rishi Sunak’s appearance next week.

Johnson returns for second day at the Covid inquiry

Good morning. Boris Johnson is returning to the UK Covid inquiry today to face further questions on his government’s handling of the pandemic.

Yesterday, he admitted that there were decisions that his government “could and should have” made to stop the spread of coronavirus but denied he had made major mistakes and attempted to defend the chaotic and abusive culture in his top team.

The former prime minister even insisted that a Downing Street culture widely described as toxic and dysfunctional in fact led to better decisions.

You can read the full report from my colleagues Peter Walker and Robert Booth here:

Johnson’s evidence is due to begin at 10am and we will have a live stream of it here.

#Boris #Johnson #face #questions #Covid #inquiry #live #Covid #inquiry

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