Boris Johnson wanted to let Covid “rip” despite the fact people would die, while Rishi Sunak also thought that was “okay”, the UK public inquiry has heard.
In further revelations from Sir Patrick Vallance’s pandemic diaries, the inquiry heard of the “shambolic” day on October 25th 2020, when the country was heading towards a second national lockdown.
The diary entry highlights how the former British prime minister wanted to let the virus spread, while his most senior adviser, Dominic Cummings (DC), suggested Mr Sunak, then chancellor, also thought it was “okay” to just let people die.
The extract read: “PM meeting – begins to argue for letting it all rip. Saying yes, there will be more casualties but so be it – ‘they have had a good innings’.
“Not persuaded by (Jon) Edmunds, (Neil) Ferguson, (Jeremy) Farrar. PM says ‘the population just has to behave doesn’t it’.
“Heat maps ‘I have the necrotising maps’ so depressing.
“DC says trajectory will leave us in Nov – much as where we were in 1st week of April.
“Chris quite bullish about being able to take the brakes off more in April…
“Goes on about Gulf War Syndrome again… PM getting very frustrated – throwing papers down.
“PM then back on to ‘most people who die have reached their time anyway’.
“DC arguing we need to save lives – it is not democratically possible to follow another route…
“DC argued again (rightly) that a lockdown’s coming and therefore do it sooner rather than later.
“PM concludes, ‘Looks like we are in a really tough spot, a complete shambles.’
“‘I really don’t want to do another national lockdown’.
“PM told that if he wants to go down this route of letting go, ‘you need to tell people – you need to tell them you are going to allow people to die’…
“Conclusion – beef up the tiers – consider a national lockdown – decide by when.
“DC says ‘Rishi thinks just let people die and that’s okay’.
“This all feels like a complete lack of leadership.”
Asked about the diary entry, Mr Vallance told the inquiry he was recording what must have been “quite a shambolic day”.
However, the following day’s entry shows Johnson had taken a different view and described the Covid death toll as “terrible”.
The inquiry also heard that Mr Vallance wrote that “we have a weak indecisive PM” and described the right-wing press as “culpable” in decision-making on Covid measures.