Good Morning Britain presenters Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid have rejected Boris Johnson’s claim that the government did ‘everything we could’ stop prevent the UK coronavirus death toll reaching 100,000.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick was left to defend Johnson’s remarks at the latest Downing Street briefing, where the prime minister appeared to deny his decisions were responsible for the high death rate.
“The first thing is when Boris Johnson said ‘we did everything we could’. When he said that, I think the whole nation thought ‘did you?’.
“You didn’t, did you? You didn’t do everything you could to prevent this terrible death toll.
“We didn’t everything we could on PPE, we didn’t everything we could on care homes, we didn’t everything we could on testing, we didn’t everything we could on borders, we didn’t everything we could on locking down early, we didn’t everything we could on contact tracing, we didn’t everything we could on when we told people to Eat Out To Help Out, we didn’t everything we could when it came to schools, we didn’t everything we could doing a circuit breaker, we didn’t everything we could when it came to mixing at Christmas.
“What did we do to prevent the grim milestone?”
Jenrick, however, insisted that Johnson and government “did everything that we could on the basis of the information available to us” but failed to give significant examples of what they did wrong.
“You’ve made far bigger catastrophic mistakes, haven’t you? Not locking down when most other countries were doing back in March/April, which may have cost 25,000 lives, saying mass gatherings are fine so you sent 250,000 people happily off to the Cheltenham races, and let people from Madrid – which was in lockdown – to spend two days on the lash in Liverpool.
“We know that with PPE we didn’t have enough to protect our health and care workers – more than 800 have died. We know we pursued a policy of herd immunity, which was completely wrong, and completely ridiculous given the last pandemic was the SARS pandemic which is why the Asian countries were much better than we were.
“We know with the circuit breaker that was advised by Sage from September onwards – you dithered and delayed – like you have done as a government throughout this and didn’t take the action early enough.
“We know that through Christmas it was obviously ridiculous to give the day off, because the virus never got the memo. But you still allowed them to do it in most parts of the country.
“We know that eventually, we locked down in January way too late, given this new variant exploded, and you knew from mid-December how dangerous it was given the speed of transmission. But you didn’t lock us down until January, so we are now getting still daily figures, 1600 deaths yesterday alone. Thousands and thousands a week mire dying. We could have this death toll doubling in three months’ time.
“So the mistakes you have made are on a far greater scale than the ones you are sighting. They have been a series of cataclysmic failures.”
Speaking about the prime minister, Morgan: “Was he sorry about the decision he’s done? … Does the prime minister regret anything?”