UK PM Sunak says ‘let people die’, calls for Covid inquiry

LONDON, Nov 20 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was quoted as saying the government should “let people die” without imposing a second national lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic, an inquiry into how Britain handled the crisis heard on Monday. .

Patrick Vallance, who was the government’s chief scientific adviser during the Covid outbreak, made a note in his diary on October 25, 2020 about a meeting between then Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Finance Minister Sunak.

A diary entry shown to the trial recorded how Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s senior adviser during the pandemic, told Vallance what he had heard at the meeting.

Vallance quoted Cummings in his diary: “Rishi thinks let men die, and that’s all right. It all feels like a complete lack of leadership.”

Sunak’s spokesman said the Prime Minister would announce her position when she presented evidence to the inquiry “rather than responding piecemeal to each one”.

The inquiry examines the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut down large parts of the economy and killed more than 220,000 people in Britain. It will run until the summer of 2026.

Senior government officials have repeatedly said the government was ill-prepared for the pandemic and that a “toxic” and “macho” culture was hindering the response to the health crisis.

The danger for Sunak is that evidence at the trial undermines Johnson’s attempt to present himself as a replacement for his troubled leadership, despite being one of the most senior ministers in that government.

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Earlier evidence showed he was branded “Doctor Death” by a government science adviser in the summer of 2020 over his “eat to help” policy, which subsidized food in pubs and restaurants but was criticized by health experts for spreading the virus. .

Reporting by Andrew MacAskill, Editing by Elizabeth Piper and Christina Fincher

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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