Senior Tory admits government could face ‘Chilcot-esque’ inquiry after coronavirus epidemic

Former defence minister Tobias Ellwood said he expects members of his own government will face a 'Ch

Former defence minister Tobias Ellwood said he expects members of his own government will face a 'Chilcot-esque' inquiry at the end of the coronavirus epidemic; Channel 4 - Credit: Archant

A former Tory defence minister admitted his government could face a 'Chilcot-style' inquiry at the end of the coronavirus epidemic.

The chair of the Defence Select Committee Tobias Ellwood told Channel 4 News viewers he expected members of his own government will be summoned to an inquiry into their handling of the coronavirus crisis.

The former infantry captain said: 'There will be many questions, difficult questions that will be asked. In the future, there will be a Chilcot-esque type of inquiry, no doubt.'

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He added: 'What the government has been really good at and very clear [about] is that critical message of what the nation needs to do for us to get on top of this virus. To stay at home to protect the NHS and to save those lives.

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'I don't shy away from the absolute magnitude of the challenge that we face, not dissimilar to France, Italy, Spain and I'd say Germany as well. Although Germany's numbers are lower, they are counting in a very, very different way.'

The Chilcot inquiry - formally known as the Iraq Inquiry - was led by Sir John Chilcot and reviewed the government's involvement in the Iraq War and the actions of the then Labour prime minister Tony Blair. The investigation took place between 2009 and 2011 and its findings were finally published in 2016.

Ellwood also conceded NHS workers still faced personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages but that they would not 'run out' of kit.

The minister's words come as a shipment of vital PPE remains stuck in Turkey. It emerged that the government briefed the public on the cargo before requesting help from Turkey.

The government was also recently criticised for changing guidelines urging NHS staff to re-use equipment several times.

A petition calling for a public inquiry into the government's handling of the crisis has been signed by thousands.

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