PM booed and jeered by protesters outside the inquiry venue
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was met with a chorus of boos and jeers as he left the UK Covid-19 Inquiry on Thursday, December 7, 2023. The inquiry, chaired by former Supreme Court judge Lord Reed, is investigating the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the country.
Johnson, who testified for more than four hours, defended his decisions and actions during the crisis, saying he acted with “the best of intentions” and followed the scientific advice. He admitted that there were “things we could have done differently” and “lessons to be learned”, but denied that he was responsible for any of the deaths or suffering caused by the virus.
However, his appearance did not satisfy the protesters who gathered outside the inquiry venue in central London, holding signs and banners that read “Boris lied, people died”, “Justice for Covid victims”, and “Sack the clown”. They shouted slogans such as “Shame on you”, “Resign now”, and “Murderer” as Johnson exited the building, escorted by security personnel. Some of them threw eggs and tomatoes at his car, while others tried to block his way.
The protesters included relatives of those who died from Covid-19, health workers, activists, and opposition politicians. They demanded that Johnson be held accountable for his failures and mistakes, and that he apologize and compensate the victims and their families.
Inquiry exposes gaps and flaws in government’s response
The UK Covid-19 Inquiry, which began in September 2023, is expected to last for two years and produce a final report with recommendations and findings. It has heard from various witnesses, including scientists, doctors, officials, ministers, and journalists, who have provided evidence and testimony on the government’s response to the pandemic.
The inquiry has exposed several gaps and flaws in the government’s strategy, such as:
- The delay in imposing lockdowns and restrictions, which allowed the virus to spread faster and wider
- The lack of testing, tracing, and isolation capacity, which hampered the detection and containment of outbreaks
- The shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and other medical supplies, which put the lives of health workers and patients at risk
- The neglect and abandonment of care homes, where thousands of elderly and vulnerable people died
- The confusion and inconsistency in the communication and guidance, which created uncertainty and mistrust among the public
- The mishandling of the vaccination programme, which faced delays, shortages, and scandals
- The corruption and cronyism in the awarding of contracts and grants, which wasted public money and resources
The inquiry has also revealed the internal conflicts and tensions within the government, such as the clashes between Johnson and his former chief adviser Dominic Cummings, who accused the PM of being “unfit for the job” and “ignoring the science”. Cummings also claimed that Johnson had said he would rather see “bodies pile high” than impose another lockdown, which Johnson denied.
PM faces pressure and criticism from all sides
Johnson’s appearance at the inquiry has increased the pressure and criticism he faces from all sides, as he struggles to deal with the aftermath of the pandemic, which has killed more than 150,000 people and caused severe economic and social damage in the UK.
His own Conservative Party is divided and discontented, with some MPs calling for his resignation or removal. His popularity and trust ratings have plummeted, as the public has lost confidence and patience in his leadership and competence. His opponents and critics have intensified their attacks and demands, accusing him of being dishonest, incompetent, and irresponsible.
Johnson has also faced challenges and difficulties in dealing with other issues, such as Brexit, climate change, immigration, and security. He has been involved in several controversies and scandals, such as the refurbishment of his flat, the Christmas party at Downing Street, and the Owen Paterson affair.
Johnson has insisted that he will not resign or quit, and that he will focus on delivering his agenda and promises to the people. He has said that he is determined to “build back better” and “level up” the country after the pandemic. He has also said that he is confident that the inquiry will vindicate his actions and decisions, and that he will cooperate fully with it.
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