BORIS JOHNSON has dragged Nicola Sturgeon, Mark Drakeford, and the leaders of the Northern Ireland assembly into a public inquiry into coronavirus as he announced an investigation into the UK’s handling of the pandemic.
Addressing MPs in the Commons this afternoon, the Prime Minister committed to setting up a public inquiry with statutory powers to begin in spring 2022.
Mr Johnson pledged to work with his counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to trash out the exact remits of the inquiry so the country could learn the lessons of the pandemic “as one Team UK”.
He outlined the inquiry would begin in next year once some of the worst pressures had subsided.
Mr Johnson said the investigation means the actions of the UK Government and devolved administrations will be scrutinised “under the microscope”.
Ministers, scientists and aides will all be required to give evidence under oath.
“Amid such tragedy, the State has an obligation to examine its actions as rigorously and candidly as possible, and to learn every lesson for the future, which is why I have always said that when the time is right there should be a full and independent inquiry,” he said.
“Every part of our United Kingdom has suffered the ravages of this virus, and every part of the State has pulled together to do battle against it, and if we are to recover as one Team UK – as we must – then we should also learn lessons together in the same spirit.
“So we will consult the devolved administrations before finalising scope and detailed arrangements, so that this Inquiry can consider all key aspects of the UK response.”
Campaigners have for months been calling for an inquiry to be launched, but the Prime Minister has up to now resisted outlining a timetable saying it would be wrong to add extra burdens on public officials while the country was still grappling with the virus.
The Cabinet signed off on the plan for an inquiry into the pandemic earlier today.
More than 127,000 people have died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test according to official data, the fifth-highest tally in the world.