Has Boris Johnson paved the way for his second coming? In his dreams…

The former prime minister’s evidence to the Covid inquiry was a reminder that he was a lousy leader of an incompetent government. And he can forget any chance of a political comeback, writes Andrew Grice

Wednesday 06 December 2023 13:45 GMT
<p>Boris Johnson gives evidence at the Covid inquiry </p>

Boris Johnson gives evidence at the Covid inquiry

Although it was much trailed by his allies, Boris Johnson’s apology for mistakes made in the pandemic turned out to be pretty half-hearted. He didn’t even use the A-word in his opening remarks, saying: “Can I just say how glad I am to be at this inquiry, and how sorry I am for the pain and the loss and the suffering of the Covid victims?”

He went further in his 200-page written statement, which is due to be published on Thursday. “We – I – unquestionably made mistakes, and for those I unreservedly apologise,” he wrote. “There was terrible suffering, which we did our best to alleviate, and, where we failed, I apologise again.”

Yet he appeared to row back in a revealing exchange when Hugo Keith KC, the Covid inquiry’s counsel, asked him to say precisely what he was apologising for. Johnson replied: “We may have made mistakes”, but declined to “itemise them […] in a hierarchy”.

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