British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday confirmed an independent inquiry into the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, sometime in the future.
Pressed on the issue during the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) session in the House of Commons, Johnson made the commitment to hold a probe for the first time, having previously dismissed Opposition demands for an immediate investigation.
I do not believe now, in the middle of combating the pandemic, is the right moment to devote huge amounts of official time to an inquiry, he said in Parliament.
“But of course we will seek to learn the lessons of this pandemic in the future and certainly we will have an independent inquiry into what happened,” he said.
His comments followed a question posed to him in the Commons from Sir Ed Davey, acting leader of the Liberal Democrat party.
Under this Prime Minister, we’ve suffered one of the worst death rates in the world and Europe’s worst death rate for health and care workers,” said Davey.
Previously, he’s refused my demand for an immediate independent inquiry saying it’s too soon even though back in 2003 he voted for an independent inquiry into the Iraq war just months after that conflict started. If he still rejects an immediate inquiry, will he instead commit in principle to a future public inquiry yes or no, he questioned?
Johnson went on to commit himself to an independent inquiry in his reply, but did not mention that it would essentially be a public inquiry, which would be much wider and involve public hearings and witnesses giving evidence under oath.
The UK prime minister has been previously pressed on this issue by Opposition Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer as well but has always insisted that the government is learning lessons. This week, however, he decided to go further and has committed himself to an inquiry at a future date.