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‘Keep your apology!’ The day Boris got a mauling… from the public

By arriving three hours early, and under the cover of darkness, the former prime minister had hoped to avoid confrontation at the Covid inquiry. But it was as soon as he tried to say he was sorry that things slipped out of his control, writes Joe Murphy

Wednesday 06 December 2023 19:12 GMT
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<p>As Boris Johnson started giving evidence to the Covid inquiry, four protesters – Kirsten Hackman, Michelle Rumball, Kathryn Butcher and Fran Hall – seized their moment (Jordan Pettitt/PA)</p>

As Boris Johnson started giving evidence to the Covid inquiry, four protesters – Kirsten Hackman, Michelle Rumball, Kathryn Butcher and Fran Hall – seized their moment (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

Boris Johnson looked tired. The blond mop had been teased into place, but it was thinner, with pink gaps at the crown where the follicles were threadbare. His face red blotches on a dry canvas of dull grey.

At a guess, the ex-prime minister didn’t get much sleep before his dawn run to the hearing rooms in Westbourne Terrace. He slipped past a handful of hacks and protesters at 7am, in near darkness, and spent three hours hiding in a witness room no bigger than one of the No 10 loos. Inquiries are great levellers.

It didn’t start well. Lady Hallett, the chair, delivered a grumpy statement about advance leaks of Boris’s evidence. A waste of breath. A PM who routinely leaked announcements and tried to unlawfully suspend parliament was not going to start feeling guilty about a couple of Sunday briefings. Johnson stared blankly. Not bothered.

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