An inquiry into how Britain handled the COVID-19 pandemic alleged that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was quoted as saying the government should “just let people die” rather than impose a second national lockdown.
During COVID-19, Patrick Vallance, the government’s main scientific adviser, made a note in his diary on Oct. 25, 2020, about a meeting between then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Sunak, the finance minister.
The diary entry presented to the inquiry detailed how Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s most senior adviser during the pandemic, communicated to Vallance what he said he heard at the meeting.
Vallance quoted Cummings in his diary as saying, “Rishi thinks just let people die, and that’s okay. This all feels like a complete lack of leadership.”
Sunak’s spokeswoman said the prime minister would state his viewpoint when he testifies before the inquiry “rather than respond to each one piecemeal”.
The inquiry is looking into the government’s reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, which shut down huge parts of the economy and killed over 220,000 individuals in the UK. It will operate until the summer of 2026.
Senior government officials have frequently stated that the government was unprepared for the epidemic and that the response to the health crisis was impeded by a “toxic” and “macho” attitude.
The risk for Sunak is that the evidence from the probe undermines his attempt to portray himself as a change from Johnson’s chaotic leadership, despite the fact that he was one of the most senior ministers in that cabinet.
Previous evidence indicates that he was dubbed “Dr. Death” by one government scientific adviser in the summer of 2020 for his “Eat Out to Help Out” policy, which subsidized meals in pubs and restaurants but was criticized by health professionals for spreading the virus.