Boris Johnson has responded to allegations of indecisiveness during the pandemic by stating that, in his testimony to the Covid inquiry, it was his responsibility to weigh the potential consequences of lockdown and determine if it was ultimately beneficial or detrimental.
In the document he submitted to the investigation, Johnson elaborates on his internal conflict in March 2020 regarding implementing a stay-at-home order to protect lives.
“I have definitely voiced and pondered numerous times about the potential negative effects of lockdowns,” stated Johnson in a document of his testimony which was made public after being briefly presented to the inquiry on Thursday.
According to Johnson’s evidence, Imran Shafi, his aide, noted that the ex-prime minister was worried about the effects of the lockdown, likening it to “killing the patient to tackle the tumour”.
The text demonstrates Johnson’s inconsistent stance on the matter, which reportedly frustrated his team as revealed in recent evidence.
Johnson describes how he grappled with the decision to implement a lockdown, both internally and with his colleagues. He stated that he felt it was his responsibility as a practical and responsible leader to have a discussion about it. The situation was difficult, as they were faced with conflicting options.
He stated, “I would be taken aback if I ever claimed to have been coerced or pressured into the initial lockdown, or if I had been deceived regarding the statistics or any other similar matter. I have no memory of this.”
There were limited options available to us and we constantly had to consider the negative consequences of each one. I was particularly concerned about the impact on the economy from our actions against Covid 19 and whether it would be more detrimental to the nation than the virus itself. However, I always prioritized the well-being of human life and the overall health of the public.
Johnson is scheduled to appear before the inquiry in December.
Dominic Cummings, who used to be the chief advisor, compared the previous prime minister’s inability to make decisions to a shaky shopping cart. During Tuesday’s inquiry, he stated, “Almost everyone referred to him as the trolley.”
Cummings mentioned a press conference that took place in March 2020 where Johnson proudly mentioned shaking hands with hospital workers. Cummings stated that this made it difficult to persuade Johnson to take stronger measures in the following weeks, as he was constantly concerned that pushing too hard would cause Johnson to backtrack and potentially worsen the situation. It was impossible to anticipate when this might occur.
Cummings alleged that Johnson inquired with his leading medical and scientific advisors about the possibility of eradicating Covid by using a unique hairdryer inserted into the nose. The diary entries of the chief scientist, Sir Patrick Vallance, documented his concern that Johnson seemed fixated on older individuals accepting their inevitable outcome.
Lee Cain, the director of communications for Johnson, stated during the investigation: “I believe that anyone who has spent a significant amount of time working with the prime minister will become tired of him. He can be a difficult person to work with at times because he changes his mind frequently and is influenced by the last person he speaks to.”
Cain stated in his written testimony that one difficulty faced was the prime minister’s indecision between implementing lockdown measures and considering other policy options. This was a recurring issue during crucial decision-making periods of Covid, which is somewhat understandable given the seriousness of the situation. The prime minister expressed concern about the effects on the economy and questioned the accuracy of the models and demographics surrounding Covid-related fatalities.