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The five key questions Boris Johnson must answer when he takes the stand at the Covid inquiry

The inquiry so far has been about settling scores rather than learning lessons – it badly needs to rise to the task when the former prime minister eventually slouches to the witness stand, writes John Rentoul

Friday 03 November 2023 14:52 GMT
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‘When Boris Johnson finally takes the witness stand, probably in the second week of December, he needs to try to rise above the blame game’
‘When Boris Johnson finally takes the witness stand, probably in the second week of December, he needs to try to rise above the blame game’ (Getty)

The overwhelming feeling I got from attending the Covid inquiry in a bleak government building in Paddington was that I was in the wrong place. The real lessons of the pandemic are being learned in government labs at Porton Down, and in universities and drug companies around the country.

What was happening in the long, low-ceilinged hearings room, on the other hand, was a low-rent drama of score-settling. It has been a media feast of insult and abuse, as many of the people working at the heart of government during the crisis have tried to claim that they would have handled it better if they hadn’t been frustrated by the follies of those around them.

Very little of the “who swore at whom” has helped the nation to prepare for the next unknown virus.

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