Boris Johnson is expected to issue an “unreserved apology” at the Covid public inquiry next week, but will insist that his decisions saved lives during the pandemic, according to the Times.
In evidence that stretches to more than 200 pages, the former prime minister will make a series of key points about his handling of the coronavirus crisis, the Times reported, without saying where it got the information.
While admitting that some mistakes were made, Johnson will say that all three UK lockdowns came at the right time, and that the government succeeded in its central aim of preventing health services from becoming overwhelmed, the newspaper reported.
References to Rishi Sunak, who served as UK chancellor during the pandemic, will be largely absent from the former premier’s written testimony, according to the Times.
While the UK has been praised for a relatively fast rollout of vaccines, it faced early problems on testing and tracing, and the National Health Service lagged behind European peers on availability of hospital beds, critical care, and medical technology.
The Covid inquiry, which Johnson set up while still in power, has proceeded amid a backdrop of public anger that the former prime minister and senior officials allowed drinks parties in Downing Street while the rest of the country was in lockdown. Both Johnson and Sunak received police fines for breaking pandemic rules at one event.
Johnson will say that the so-called Partygate scandal had no “material impact on observance of the rules or guidance at the time,” the Times reported. He’ll also deny claims that he wasn’t fully engaged during the early stages of Covid.
Johnson was hospitalized with the coronavirus in April 2020, months before vaccines were available, and spent three nights in intensive care after his symptoms worsened. In a video recorded after his discharge, a pale and gaunt Johnson said that the NHS has “saved my life, no question.”