The ongoing Covid inquiry in London is shedding light on the alleged failings of Boris Johnson’s government during the pandemic. Each session unravels the inadequacies of key figures in managing one of Britain’s most lethal crises. In the austere room next to Paddington station, where the inquiry unfolds, lead counsel Hugo Keith KC leaves no stone unturned, using phrases like “failings in the heart of the government.”
As the inquiry delves deeper into questioning ministers and advisers, it exposes the ill-suited nature of Johnson and his team to handle such a crisis. The revelation that key figures were woefully unprepared for a crisis of this magnitude is becoming painfully evident. The inquiry’s report, scheduled for publication in the coming summer, is anticipated to be scathing.
Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, who haven’t faced the inquiry yet, loom as significant figures in the unfolding drama. The inquiry’s lead counsel has hinted at “failings in the heart of the government,” setting the stage for a potentially damning assessment.
The proximity of the inquiry to the upcoming election adds a layer of complexity to the political fallout. The Conservatives’ resistance to an early inquiry, coupled with delays in providing crucial documents, has backfired, leaving them exposed to increased scrutiny. Johnson’s unredacted Covid-era materials remain a focal point of the inquiry, further amplifying the government’s mismanagement.
Despite the inquiry’s potential to reshape public opinion, the Tories’ existing discrediting due to other government failures might dilute its impact. The inquiry’s public hearings are set to continue until mid-2026, with the report’s publication likely occurring when the Tories are in opposition or no longer in politics.
The comparison with the Chilcot report on the Iraq war highlights the challenge of sustaining public and media attention post-inquiry. The recent distractions of Partygate and its consequences for Johnson’s leadership overshadow the ongoing Covid inquiry, making it just one of several reckonings for the Tories.
While the Covid inquiry faces the hurdle of competing with global events and public fatigue, it has exhibited a more assertive approach. Key Tory figures, including Michael Gove, have faced rigorous questioning, unveiling insights into the government’s decision-making processes. The inquiry’s persistence in holding those in power accountable offers a glimmer of hope for a thorough examination of the government’s actions during the pandemic.