Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2858

Johnson and Sunak—both are guilty of Covid crimes

Boris Johnson wants to give evidence to the Covid inquiry to bring down his successor, writes Isabel Ringrose
Issue 2858
Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak partied as people died (Picture: No 10 Downing Street/Flickr)

Boris Johnson is causing havoc for his former chancellor Rishi SunakToday’s prime minister Sunak has tried to block his former boss from handing over evidence to the Covid inquiry that will surely be damning for every Tory.

The public inquiry into the Covid pandemic will take oral evidence from next Tuesday. Ministers will be interrogated under oath about their murderous decision-making.

Sunak is worrying about what will come out of the shadows. For instance, it’s almost definite that he knew his Eat Out to Help Out scheme would cause cases to skyrocket.

That didn’t stop him plugging the scheme and causing a second wave of the virus, killing tens of thousands. Sunak was also fined over Partygate, and he’s clearly concerned about what other controversies may be revealed. 

Johnson hasn’t got anything to lose. It’s common knowledge that he broke his own rules to host parties at Downing Street while the rest of Britain was in lockdown. Now he wants to pull Sunak into the abyss with him.

Sunak’s government launched a High Court block to stop Johnson handing anything over without its say. Johnson undermined Sunak and sent 300 pages of unredacted WhatsApp messages to the inquiry despite the attempts to stop him.

Johnson is also trying to hand in a phone that pre-dates May 2021, which there were security concerns over. This phone would cover discussions over the first lockdown. Cabinet lawyers have told Johnson that public money would “cease to be available” if he tried to “frustrate or undermine” the government.

While people were dying alone, and millions of workers risked their lives without adequate PPE, Johnson and his Cabinet lived it up   at parties. Underneath the political soap opera are the consequences of Johnson’s and Sunak’s failings. At the peak of the second wave, 1,490 people died on 20 January.  In total 226,989 people have died from the virus.

It was Johnson, with blood on his hands, that said, “Let the bodies pile high” in autumn 2020. Johnson was at the helm, with Sunak by his side, as tens of thousands of people died.

Remember the refusals to implement lockdowns, the lack of PPE provided for NHS staff and care workers. And ministers wasted £37 billion on a failed track and trace system, as well as handing contracts to friends who had no experience of  making health equipment.

The suffering, deaths and misery caused by the Tories are what should be at the heart of the inquiry, as the remaining ministers from Johnson’s era scramble to stop themselves from sinking. Yet, just like the victims of Bloody Sunday, Hillsborough and the contaminated blood scandal learned, state-led inquiries never equal real justice. 

The Hallett inquiry will certainly bring to light shocking details of the government’s handling of the pandemic. But it will be no beacon of hope for the victims of the pandemic, their families or those that still suffer today. Justice has to come from below.

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