Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the government should “just let people die” during the Covid-19 pandemic rather than impose a second national lockdown, the inquiry into Britain’s handling of the crisis showed on Monday.
Patrick Vallance, who served as the government’s chief scientific adviser during COVID, made an entry in his diary on October 25, 2020 about a meeting between then Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Sunak, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The diary shown at the inquest recorded how Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s top adviser during the pandemic, relayed to Vallance what he said he had heard at the meeting.
Vallance quoted Cummings in his diary: “Rishi thinks you should just let people die and that’s OK. This all feels like a complete lack of leadership.”
A spokesman for Sunak said the Prime Minister would set out his position when giving evidence to the inquiry, “rather than responding to each inquiry piecemeal”.
The inquiry examines the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic that has shut down large parts of the economy and killed more than 220,000 people in Britain. It runs until the summer of 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 evidence from the inquiry undermines his attempt to cast himself as a changer in Johnson’s chaotic leadership, even though he was one of the most senior ministers in that government.
Previous evidence has shown that he was referred to by a government scientific advisor as “Dr. Death’ was branded for its ‘Eat Out to Help out’ policy in the summer of 2020, which subsidized meals in pubs and restaurants, but was criticized by health experts for spreading the virus. .
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