Campaigners have claimed victory after Boris Johnson appeared to agree with interim leader Ed Davey that there must be an independent inquiry into the government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis.
Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, Davey warned that under Boris Johnson’s leadership the country has suffered ‘one of the worst death rates in the world and Europe’s worst death rate of health and care workers.’
Making reference to Boris Johnson’s support for an independent inquiry into the Iraq War, the Liberal Democrat acting leader again urged the prime minister to ‘commit in principle to a future independent inquiry’.
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In response, the prime minister accepted his government will ‘learn the lessons of this pandemic’ and confirmed there will be in independent inquiry.
Speaking after the exchange, Davey welcomed the response and called for Johnson to set out a timetable.
‘The Coronavirus crisis is taking an enormous toll on people and our country.
‘It is clear the government has failed on so many fronts – failing to prepare properly for a pandemic, failing to protect care home residents and social care workers, and failing to properly communicate their plans and so much more.
‘With so many loved ones lost, people deserve to know what happened. After months of refusing the public that opportunity, I am pleased the prime minister has finally accepted Liberal Democrat demands for an independent inquiry.
‘The prime minister must now set out the timetable of this inquiry, and it must begin as soon as possible. The government must be held to account to ensure that the same mistakes are never repeated.’
It comes after an all party parliamentary group (APPG) was established in parliament and launched its own inquiry into the government response.
The group, chaired by MP Layla Moran, similarly welcomed calls and urged the prime minister to launch the review now.
Moran said: ‘Boris Johnson must commit to a public inquiry now, not kick this into long grass. There is no time to waste, we must learn the lessons from this crisis ahead of a potential second wave.
‘The APPG on coronavirus is already taking evidence, with a focus on rapidly producing practical recommendations. If the prime minister is serious about an independent inquiry that goes beyond our own, he must launch it without delay.’