Lockdowns did more harm than good, Boris Johnson to tell Covid Inquiry
Lockdowns did more harm than good, Boris Johnson to tell the Covid Inquiry when he gives evidence today
- Former PM will give evidence to the Covid Inquiry across two days
- READ MORE: ‘Covid Inquiry should be looking at whether virus created in lab’
Boris Johnson will today warn the Covid Inquiry that lockdowns caused more harm than good, as he defends his pandemic decisions.
The former prime minister has come under fire at the inquiry for delaying draconian restrictions and for constantly questioning their impact on the economy.
But during two days of evidence beginning this morning, he will suggest the inquiry has given too little consideration to the downsides of restrictions, which damaged education, health and the economy.
In written evidence, Mr Johnson said he had a duty to consider whether lockdowns ‘would do (and did do) more harm than good’.
He added: ‘We were between a rock and a hard place. We simply had no good choices, and it was necessary at all times to weigh up the harms that any choice would cause.’
Boris Johnson will tell the Covid Inquiry during two days of evidence that lockdowns did more harm than good
The former prime minister is set to face a grilling by the inquiry’s chief counsel, Hugo Keith KC (pictured)
Tory MP Sir Michael Fabricant said the inquiry appeared at times to be more interested in ‘salacious’ WhatsApp messages between ministers and officials than in learning the lessons of the crisis.
And he appealed for Mr Johnson to be given a fair hearing: ‘I have been a little worried that the inquiry has drifted into who swore what at whom rather than focusing on the lessons learned in case, God forbid, we have another pandemic.
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‘I just hope that Boris will be heard by people with an open mind rather than the prejudice which he has met in the past at other hearings.’
Another supporter of the former PM said the inquiry appeared to have started from a presumption that lockdowns were the right response to the pandemic and that the Government had been too slow.
‘They only seem to be interested in asking whether we should have locked down sooner or for longer,’ the source said.
‘There has been very little discussion so far of the incredibly difficult trade-offs involved or of the constantly changing scientific advice, which was against locking down early on.
‘If you really want to learn the lessons of the pandemic you – which is what Boris is interested in – you have to look at everything, not start with a pre-determined narrative.’
Mr Johnson is expected to acknowledge that the first lockdown of March 2020 was inevitable, given the lack of a vaccine or effective treatments against a deadly new virus.
Mr Johnson goes for a morning run near his Oxfordshire home on the eve of giving evidence to the inquiry
But in his written testimony he said he had been ‘very worried about the economic harm caused… and whether it would do more damage to the country than the virus itself’.
He is also expected to suggest that the inquiry should take more interest in the origins of the virus. Michael Gove was shut down at the hearings when he suggested that a ‘significant body of judgment’ now believed Covid-19 was man-made.
Mr Johnson will apologise for mistakes made by the Government during the pandemic.
But he will insist that ministers ‘got the big calls right’: achieving one of the fastest vaccine rollouts in the world, preventing the collapse of the NHS, developing innovative treatments like dexamethasone and emerging from the final lockdown quickly.
He will also reject claims that he ‘switched off’ during a half-term break in February 2020.
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