During an uncomfortable inquiry, Boris Johnson was reminded of every instance in which he mentioned “letting Covid rip.”
On Monday, Rishi Sunak will face questioning regarding his actions during the Covid-19 pandemic at the inquiry.
The chancellor, who served as prime minister during the pandemic, is likely to face scrutiny regarding allegations that the Eat Out to Help Out program contributed to the spread of the disease.
In July 2020, as part of his summer economic update, Mr. Sunak implemented a plan that offered a 50% discount on the price of food and non-alcoholic beverages.
According to WhatsApp messages presented to the Covid-19 Inquiry, government advisors referred to Mr. Sunak as “Dr. Death” during the pandemic due to worries about the consequences of his efforts to maintain economic activity.
According to sources, Professor Sir Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer of England, has allegedly referred to the government’s initiative to support the restaurant industry as “eat out to help out the virus” in private conversations.
The Prime Minister is the most recent member of the Covid-19 cabinet to be investigated. Last week, previous prime minister Boris Johnson defended his decisions and criticized the “exaggerated” portrayals of the Partygate scandal.
What actions did Sunak take during the Covid pandemic?
On February 13th, 2020, Rishi Sunak was elevated from chief secretary to the Treasury to chancellor. This occurred at a crucial time as the Covid crisis was intensifying.
It has become clear during the pandemic, specifically through evidence presented to the Covid inquiry, that the Treasury and Sunak showed some opposition to implementing lockdown measures, citing economic concerns.
However, they invested £800 million in the Eat Out to Help Out program. At the time, this was considered a daring effort to support the struggling hospitality industry, but has since sparked concerns about potentially contributing to the spread of the disease during a critical period.
Sunak was present at Boris Johnson’s birthday event and received a citation for violating rules.
Michael Gove stands by the Eat Out to Help Out program.
On Sunday, Cabinet Minister Michael Gove came to the defense of Mr. Sunak, stating that there was no criticism from the public regarding the Eat Out to Help Out program before it was implemented in August 2020.
According to Mr. Gove, the policy was declared a month prior to its implementation and there was no public criticism during this period.
He stated on Sky’s Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips programme that it was a successful method of providing support to the struggling hospitality industry during a challenging time, and it aligned with the general guidelines for social interactions in place at that time.
View: Boris Johnson expresses regret to those affected in Covid investigation.
Last week, while testifying at the Covid-19 inquiry, ex-prime minister Boris Johnson offered an apology to the victims.
Boris Johnson expresses regret to those affected by Covid during inquiry.
Could Rishi Sunak’s testimony on COVID-19 have an impact on his political standing?
Considering all the other recent issues, it is likely that there won’t be much progress.
The public may view the furlough scheme as simply fulfilling their expectations, and may believe that the government had no choice but to assist the economy.
Sunak will not receive much appreciation for his positive actions, but he will face a lot of disapproval for his proposals like Eat Out to Help Out, which in retrospect, were not wise in terms of both the economy and public health.
Instead of truly considering scientific evidence, it appears that Sunak and the Treasury deliberately avoided involving medical and scientific professionals, as well as the health secretary, in the decision-making process.
This does not align with Sunak’s statements at the time or his perception as a reasonable individual.
Were experts consulted by Rishi for the Eat Out to Help Out program?
Tomorrow, all eyes will be on the Eat Out to Help Out program as Rishi Sunak appears before the Covid-19 Inquiry. It will be questioned whether the Treasury and Sunak consulted any medical or scientific experts regarding its effectiveness and potential risks.
Chris Whitty, Jonathan Van-Tam, and Patrick Vallance all claim to have had no prior knowledge of its launch.
Johnson said in his testimony that Whitty and Vallance were consulted appropriately, but during questioning, he acknowledged that this was only his belief.
According to sources, Professor Sir Chris Whitty, England’s top medical advisor, has reportedly referred to the initiative aimed at stimulating the restaurant industry as “eat out to help out the virus” in private.
Former chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance stated that he and Sir Chris were not consulted beforehand about the program, which ended up costing hundreds of millions of pounds.
Sir Patrick testified to Baroness Hallett’s investigation, stating that the plan most likely contributed to the increase in fatalities.
What does the Covid-19 Inquiry entail?
The inquiry being conducted in the UK is a public investigation that aims to examine the country’s actions and repercussions in response to the Covid-19 crisis.
The investigation’s scope, released in June 2022, outlines several objectives such as evaluating the public health measures taken during the pandemic, the healthcare industry’s response to the pandemic, and the economic impact of the pandemic, including government interventions.
Baroness Heather Hallett, a retired judge and crossbench peer who previously oversaw the investigations into the 7 July London bombings, is presiding over the inquiry.
The public hearings commenced in June of 2023 and are anticipated to persist until 2026.
Important points to remember from Boris Johnson’s testimony
The upcoming Covid-19 Inquiry on Monday will feature current prime minister Rishi Sunak, while the previous prime minister testified last week.
Boris Johnson provided intense testimony for two days concerning the Covid situation, requiring him to confront his administration’s shortcomings during the pandemic.
He remained firm in his stance on lockdowns, stating that the implementation of a nationwide lockdown in March 2020 was “likely appropriate” and asserting that it should not have been enacted sooner.
He acknowledged the potential for earlier actions to have been implemented.
In his statement, Mr. Johnson acknowledged that his tiered local lockdown approach was unsuccessful. He also admitted to not recalling any specific discussion about testing hospital patients before they were released to care homes in March 2020.
The previous leader of the government, however, justified his choice to not lead the Cobra meetings that took place at the beginning of the pandemic.
According to the Covid inquiry, Rishi Sunak believed that the government should allow people to die.
Tomorrow, Rishi Sunak will be questioned in the Covid inquiry. However, he has already been brought up numerous times during the hearing which started several weeks ago.
During the inquiry, a shocking statement was made by the current prime minister, who was the chancellor at the time. It was claimed that he believed it was acceptable to simply let people die in the fall of 2020.
On November 20, the inquiry heard about an allegation from ex-chief of staff Dominic Cummings that was recorded in Sir Patrick Vallance’s diary.
According to WhatsApp messages shared with the Covid-19 Inquiry, government advisors nicknamed Mr. Sunak “Dr Death” due to worries about the consequences of his efforts to maintain economic activity during the pandemic.
What inquiries might Rishi Sunak be asked during the questioning?
The prime minister is scheduled to appear before the Covid-19 Inquiry tomorrow and address allegations that his economic strategies worsened the spread of the disease.
He will probably need to provide responses to the following important inquiries:
Did he consult a medical or expert professional for advice on the Eat Out to Help Out program?
Why was a total of £800 million used for the East Out to Help Out program, which lasted just over a month, while only £385 million was allocated for the self-isolation support scheme during its 18-month existence?
Did the economy and public health conflict with each other?
Why was there not more action taken to support individuals mandated to self-isolate according to government regulations?
There are allegations that the Eat Out to Help Out program, overseen by Rishi Sunak, contributed to the spread of coronavirus.
On Monday, Rishi Sunak will face the Covid-19 inquiry and address accusations that his Eat Out to Help Out program contributed to the spread of the disease.
The chancellor was serving as prime minister during the crisis and has been nicknamed “Dr Death” in Whatsapp messages shared among government advisors, as revealed during the inquiry.
In July 2020, as part of his summer economic update, Mr. Sunak announced a plan that would cover 50% of the expenses for food and non-alcoholic beverages.
According to sources, Professor Sir Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, has reportedly referred to the program aimed at supporting the restaurant industry as “eat out to help out the virus.”