Virus public inquiry; Parliament must take back control from Boris Johnson – The Yorkshire Post says

THERE was no disguising the hesitancy – even obfuscation – in Boris Johnson’s voice when he gave an undertaking during the Queen’s Speech debate to hold a “full, proper public inquiry into the Covid pandemic” during this session of Parliament.

Yet, after the Prime Minister appeared to be caught by surprise, Downing Street – and Mr Johnson himself – were, less than 24 hours later, already beginning to set the parameters and will, in time, appoint an individual, presumably a retired judge, to head the inquiry from spring 2022.

However, just as it is wrong for the PM to be able to influence ongoing inquiries into his compliance of the Ministerial Code over the renovation of his Downing Street flat, it is not for Mr Johnson to be judge and jury over his Government’s handling of a pandemic that has claimed 127,000 lives.

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Quite the opposite. It should be down to Parliament to instigate this independent inquiry and the terms of reference, including the wishes of the grieving, in one of its first tests of sovereignty since Britain left the EU.

Social care should be a key element of any Covid public inquiry.

This requires a cross-party select committee to be formed to agree, and put in place the mechanisms necessary to begin this process, so that Mr Johnson, and his colleagues, are not unduly distracted from the need to complete the vaccine rollout and reopen the economy.

As The Yorkshire Post set out on the pandemic’s first anniversary, there are many aspects of the response, like the tragic number of deaths in care homes, that need to be learned now if future lives are to be protected.

Such issues are a matter of life and death. They’re also too important to be left at the mercy of a premier whose record on social care is defined by his failure to publish “the clear plan” that he promised the nation on the day he took office – and the current inability of the Department of Health to even confirm its existence.

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Boris Johnson promised a Covid public inquiry during a debate on the Queen's Speech.