PM: Covid-19 inquiry an irresponsible diversion at present time

Richard Wheeler, PA Parliamentary Editor
·2-min read

Holding a Covid-19 public inquiry now would be an “irresponsible diversion” for officials, Boris Johnson has said.

The Prime Minister told MPs that those involved in the effort to combat the pandemic must be allowed to concentrate their “energies” on the immediate priority, although he remains committed to an inquiry in future.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has demanded a “full public inquiry” into the handling of the pandemic “as soon as restrictions lift”.

This call was echoed by Labour MP Afzal Khan (Manchester Gorton) who said he had lost an “entire generation” of his family.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Khan said: “A year into this crisis and more than 126,000 lives have been lost.

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“Behind this staggering figure are millions of grieving loved ones.

“In my family, we have lost an entire generation.

“I couldn’t hold my mum’s hand as she lay dying and I recently lost both my father and mother-in-law within just days of one another.

“Grieving families like mine want and deserve to understand what happened, and if anything could have been done to prevent this tragedy.”

Asked to commit to launching a full public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic as soon as restrictions are lifted, Mr Johnson offered his “sympathies and sorrow” for Mr Khan’s loss.

The PM added: “His experience is one, as he rightly says, that has been shared by far too many families up and down the country and that’s why we’re of course committed – as soon as it’s right to do so, as soon as it wouldn’t be an irresponsible diversion of the energies of the key officials involved – to an inquiry to learn the lessons, to make sure nothing like this can ever happen again.”