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How to watch Rishi Sunak's appearance in front of the COVID inquiry

Rishi Sunak's Eat Out to Help Out scheme was controversial at the time. (Getty)
Rishi Sunak's Eat Out to Help Out scheme was controversial at the time. (Getty)

The prime minister is due to face a grilling from the COVID inquiry where he will defend his record as chancellor during the pandemic.

Rishi Sunak was one of the most important people in the British government throughout the pandemic and was pivotal in the introduction of furlough and the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. On top of this several other witnesses who have appeared in front of the inquiry have commented on Sunak's influence in key decisions around when to put the country in lockdown.

The PM will appear after the inquiry has heard testimony from Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and several of the government's top scientific advisors during the pandemic.

He has so far been criticised several times, with one text from a scientific advisor calling him "Dr Death" in reference to his push to open up the economy.

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When will Rishi Sunak appear?

The inquiry announced on Thursday that Sunak will be questioned about his actions during the COVID-19 pandemic when he appears before the hearing on Monday. He will do a full day of questions starting from 10.30am.

Boris Johnson has already given his testimony to the inquiry. (PA)
Boris Johnson has already given his testimony to the inquiry. (PA)

How can I watch it?

Yahoo is live blogging the inquiry - you can follow our coverage here. The COVID inquiry also broadcasts all its hearings live on YouTube where you can also watch past broadcasts. The stream will be broken up into a morning and afternoon session.

Will he be asked about Eat Out to Help Out?

One of the most controversial policies Sunak implemented during the pandemic was Eat Out to Help Out. It has already been mentioned several times during the inquiry. The former children’s commissioner for England said prioritising the scheme over schools during the pandemic was a “terrible mistake” and played a huge part in children’s negative lockdown experience.

Eat Out to Help Out was called
Eat Out to Help Out was called "eat out to help the virus" by Chris Whitty. (PA)

Several advisors and the former health secretary have also claimed they had not been told about the scheme until the day it was announced. During his testimony, Johnson said he was "perplexed" as to why his advisors had been unaware of it. The former PM went on to defend the scheme saying it was not viewed as a "particular gamble at the time". He also said he was "not confident that there is substantial evidence" that Eat Out To Help Out led to a rise in cases.

A WhatsApp message from Professor Dame Angela McLean has also emerged during the inquiry. In the message to Professor John Edmunds in September 2020 Dame Angela referred to Sunak was "Dr Death the Chancellor" Prof Edmunds told the inquiry the reference "could well be" about the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

It also emerged England’s chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty later called the scheme "eat out to help the virus."

Johnson told the Inquiry: "I remember being surprised, later, I think it was in September, when Chris says ‘this is eat out to help the virus’.

Protesters outside the COVID inquiry. (Getty)
Protesters outside the COVID inquiry. (Getty)

"And I thought, ‘well, that’s funny’, because I didn’t remember any previous controversy about it."

What else will he be asked about?

Hancock suggested during his testimony Johnson would have been under “enormous pressure” from then-chancellor Sunak not to impose another lockdown.

A diary entry from October 2020 by Sir Patrick Vallance, who was the UK Government’s chief scientific adviser during the pandemic, was also shared with the inquiry. It read Dominic Cummings, as having said: "Rishi thinks just let people die and that’s OK." Suank has since denied ever saying this.

He will also likely be questioned on his decision to implement furlough and when it was brought to an end. The policy was attributed to keeping much of the British economy afloat when the nation was in lockdown but it is also one of the single most expensive pieces of legislation ever implemented by the United Kingdom.