UK Pandemic Inquiry Commences: Unveiling Crisis Management

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Three years after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the United Kingdom is looking into the management of the health crisis by the government of Boris Johnson. The parliamentary commission of inquiry begins its public hearings today.

The hearings promise to feed the columns of the British press for long weeks. The parliamentary commission of inquiry into the management of Covid-19, launched after months of fierce campaigning by the families of the victims of the pandemic, opens today. The coronavirus pandemic has, in fact, killed more than 227,000 people in the United Kingdom, one of the worst tolls in Europe.

Objective of this first part of the investigation: to determine if “the pandemic was correctly planned and if the United Kingdom was sufficiently prepared for this eventuality” according to the former magistrate Heather Hallett, who chairs the commission. Dozens of witnesses, from experts to political figures, are to be heard over the next six weeks. The hearings, public, will also be broadcast live on Youtube.

But it is also a trial against former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, then head of government, criticized as much for his late reaction (the British only confined themselves on March 26) as for the chain of confinements, sometimes judged useless, which followed.

Boris Johnson will also have to answer for his role in the “Partygate”, these evenings organized in defiance of the rules of social distancing which contributed to his departure from 10 Downing Street.

THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY AT THE HEART OF THE INVESTIGATION

Another political figure at the heart of this commission of inquiry: the current British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who held the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer (the equivalent of the Minister of the Economy) during the pandemic.

The political climate was already extremely tense in the United Kingdom for the Conservative Party, of which Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak belong, even before the opening of the hearings.

On June 9, Boris Johnson announced that he was leaving his post as a Member of Parliament, pushed out by a report from the Privileges Committee accusing him of having lied to Parliament about his role in “Partygate”.

As for Rishi Sunak, he is also in difficulty after having refused to deliver to the commission of inquiry tens of thousands of WhatsApp messages exchanged between Boris Johnson and forty of his ministers and officials during the pandemic.

This article is originally published on elle.fr

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