U.K.’s Johnson Promises Inquiry to Learn Lessons of Pandemic

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the U.K. will hold an independent inquiry into its handling of the pandemic, after months of criticism of his coronavirus response.

“Of course we will seek to learn the lessons of this pandemic in the future and certainly we will have an independent inquiry,” Johnson told Parliament during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday. He did not set a date, and said it shouldn’t happen in the middle of the crisis.

Such inquiries are always difficult for governments, as decisions made under pressure are interrogated with the benefit of hindsight.

Johnson didn’t give any more detail about what kind of investigation he had in mind but once the process is begun, it can quickly expand beyond what politicians envisaged, as Tony Blair found with inquiries into the Iraq War, and David Cameron learned with a probe into the relationship between journalists and government.

The question this inquiry is likely to address is why Britain has suffered the highest level of Covid-19 deaths in Europe. It’s likely to look at the approach of Johnson’s administration, which throughout the virus crisis has been more reluctant than other nations to impose restrictions on people, from enforcing a lockdown to mandating face masks.

In the House of Commons, Johnson said he was “taking every step” to avoid second wave of infections. Opposition Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer told him that July and August have to be a “period of intense preparations.”

Challenged by Starmer on the functioning of the U.K.’s Covid-19 test and trace system, Johnson said it is “as good as or better than any other system in the world.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.