MP accuses prime minister Boris Johnson of being 'on holiday' amid 'truly shocking' Dominic Cummings' revelations
AN OPPOSITION MP said the accusations levelled against the government over the handling of the coronavirus pandemic were ‘truly shocking’, with him accusing prime minister Boris Johnson of being ‘on holiday’.
Stephen Morgan, the Portsmouth South MP, ripped into the government after Mr Johnson’s former advisor Dominic Cummings told MPs that tens of thousands of people died unnecessarily because of failings.
Mr Morgan said: ‘The behaviour described by Dominic Cummings was truly shocking.’
The comments followed a marathon seven-hour session with the House of Commons health and science committees, where Mr Cummings claimed Mr Johnson was not a ‘fit and proper person’ to get the UK through the pandemic.
Mr Cummings said Mr Johnson dismissed the pandemic as a ‘scare story’ or the new ‘swine flu’ in early 2020 as the global crisis loomed and then had to be persuaded to lock down in March.
Mr Johnson then ignored scientific advice when faced with calls for a circuit breaker in September, before saying he would rather see ‘bodies pile high’ than announce a third lockdown, Mr Cummings said.
Mr Cummings apologised to the public, saying that ministers, officials and advisers had fallen ‘disastrously short’ of the standards they should expect in a crisis.
He said the prime minister was more concerned about the impact on the economy than the need to curb the spread of coronavirus in the weeks leading up to the first lockdown.
And he was scathing about the response of the Department of Health and Social Care, claiming Health Secretary Matt Hancock should have been fired.
The former adviser, who left Downing Street last year after a behind-the-scenes power struggle, told the MPs: ‘The truth is that senior ministers, senior officials, senior advisers like me fell disastrously short of the standards that the public has a right to expect of its Government in a crisis like this.
‘When the public needed us most, the government failed.
‘I would like to say to all the families of those who died unnecessarily how sorry I am for the mistakes that were made and for my own mistakes at that.’
Following the comments, Mr Morgan said: ‘Whilst it was becoming clearer Britain and the world were facing an incredibly dangerous situation, the prime minister and others were off on holiday.
‘The Covid inquiry must be brought forward. We cannot wait until 2022.’
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But despite the stinging criticism, the actions of the government were defended.
Alan Mak, MP for Havant, said: ‘The government has prioritised protecting lives and livelihoods throughout the pandemic, from safeguarding jobs and small businesses through the furlough and grants scheme to our world-leading vaccination programme.
‘We won’t be distracted by anything or anyone as we get the country back to normal and defeat Covid-19.’