Boris Johnson should apologise for care home comments, insists senior Tory MP

PUBLISHED: 12:53 09 July 2020 | UPDATED: 14:47 09 July 2020

Caroline Nokes says that Boris Johnson should apologise. Photograph: ITV.

Caroline Nokes says that Boris Johnson should apologise. Photograph: ITV.

Archant

Boris Johnson should apologise for criticisms of care home staff over coronavirus deaths, a senior Tory MP has claimed.

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Caroline Nokes, a former minister who chairs the Commons women and equalities committee, was one of the many left distinctly unimpressed by his remarks.

Johnson told reporters earlier this week: “We discovered too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have but we’re learning lessons the whole time.”

It sparked one care sector boss to brand the comments “clumsy and cowardly”, with the Independent Care Group claiming they were a “slap in the face for those workers after they have given and sacrificed so much”.

Appearing on ITV’s Peston programme, Nokes said: “I think when I was a minister I took some criticism for being very quick to apologise when something went horribly wrong.

“And I only look back on that and think, thank goodness I did. I think when you’ve made a mistake you have to admit it, I think you have to be sincere in your apology, and you have to put it right.



“And I think that’s a challenge, that’s a real challenge for any government minister, let alone the prime minister.”



Asked if she was calling for him to apologise, she replied: “I absolutely believe that and I think ultimately there will be an inquiry into this pandemic, we will discover from that what has gone wrong, but we’ll also discover from that what we did well.”



Downing Street said the prime minister would not be apologising, and defended the remarks, claiming that “the one thing that nobody knew early on during this pandemic was that the virus was being passed asymptomatically from person-to-person in the way that it is”.



Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Munira Wilson accused further “lies” in his defence.



She said: “Yet again, we are seeing more lies from the prime minister. He and his ministers knew about the asymptomatic transmission of this virus, but they still allowed those who hadn’t been tested to enter our care homes.



“It was not the case that we didn’t know coronavirus could be asymptomatic, and it is not fair to say that care homes were not following procedures. The truth is there was no protective ring around care homes.



“Our social care system was left tragically exposed under Boris Johnson’s watch. It is time he stopped trying to dodge the blame.



“The prime minister must start taking some responsibility for his government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis and back Liberal Democrat calls for an inquiry. The mistakes that have been made cannot be allowed to happen again.”

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