Boris Johnson to throw Chris Whitty under the bus over lockdown in hours

Boris Johnson will throw Sir Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), under the bus when he addresses the Covid enquiry this afternoon. The former Prime Minister will appear before enquiry members today to provide a long-awaited official statement on his handling of the pandemic.

He will follow several high-profile public officials who helped coordinate the UK’s response to Covid, many of whom have criticised his conduct during the pandemic. But today will give Mr Johnson an opportunity to tell the story from his perspective, and he is expected to defend his record.

At the same time, he will also highlight warnings from Professor Whitty, who received a knighthood recognising his services last year, about locking down too early. As Prime Minister, Mr Johnson notably delayed the decision to lockdown England until March 23, 2020, placing the country behind many of its European neighbours despite rapidly rising cases.

The move is thought to be the focus of the enquiry when he appears today, with people expecting significant scrutiny on the part he played between 2020 and 2022. The Times has reported that, in his statement to the enquiry today, Mr Johnson will say he delayed implementing the UK’s first lockdown on the CMO’s advice.

The publication added that the ex-PM will also say the lockdown was postponed out of fears people would quickly tire of the restrictions and flout the rules.

He is expected to cite the “massive disbenefits” of locking down the country in his conclusion it was “obviously right” to ensure it wasn’t implemented prematurely.

Professor Whitty has already appeared before the inquiry, as he gave his evidence in late November. He was diplomatic when discussing the former Prime Minister and reluctant to pass significant criticism, but he was not full of praise for Mr Johnson, especially regarding his leadership.

He characterised his leadership style as “unique to him”, and added he had some “difficulties” dealing with the pandemic in its early days.

He observed Mr Johnson “had a difficulty in reaching clear, consistent positions” and was prone to “oscillation or backing and veering”.

He passed off criticism on the former PM, saying it was not his place to “make commentaries on individual politicians” when addressing the inquiry, but admitted Number 10 was “quite often chaotic” under his leadership.


Leave a Comment