Boris Johnson today pledged a ‘full’ public inquiry into the government’s handling of coronavirus within this parliamentary session. The PM firmed up his commitment to an early probe into the crisis as he was grilled by MPs about the Queen’s Speech plans.
Up to now Mr Johnson has seemed unwilling to give a timetable, pointing out that ministers and officials are focused on the response to the disease. But Sir Keir Starmer and other opposition parties have insisted that an inquiry should start immediately to learn lessons.
In the Commons, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey urged Mr Johnson to set up an inquiry ‘on behalf of bereaved families across the country’.
Mr Johnson replied: ‘I can certainly say that we will do that within this session,’ the Prime Minister told MPs in the House. ‘I have made that clear before… I do believe it’s essential we have a full, proper public inquiry into the Covid pandemic.’
Although there is no fixed length for a parliamentary session, they typically run for around a year. The government came under heavy criticism over the early stages of the pandemic. Mr Johnson was accused of not taking control of the initial response, and fuelling deaths by failing to lock down quickly and protect care homes.
There was also anger about the lack of testing capacity, which meant there was serious trouble trying to track the spread of the disease.