A recent inquiry into the UK government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has uncovered shocking statements allegedly made by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. According to leaked diary entries from Patrick Vallance, the government’s former chief scientific adviser, Sunak was quoted as saying “just let people die” during a meeting in October 2020.
The diary entry, presented as evidence to the inquiry, detailed a conversation involving then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Sunak, who served as the finance minister at the time. Vallance noted that Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s senior adviser during the pandemic, had relayed these remarks to him.
The revelation has sparked widespread outrage, with many expressing concern over the lack of empathy and leadership reflected in Sunak’s alleged comments. However, Sunak’s spokesperson has stated that the prime minister will address these allegations during his testimony before the inquiry, rather than responding to individual claims in a fragmented manner.
The ongoing inquiry aims to examine the UK government’s response to the coronavirus crisis, which led to the closure of significant portions of the economy and claimed the lives of over 220,000 people in the country. It is expected to continue until the summer of 2026, delving into various aspects of the government’s preparedness and decision-making during the crisis.
In addition to these shocking allegations, previous evidence presented at the inquiry has highlighted a “toxic” and “macho” culture within the government, which reportedly hindered the response to the health crisis. This, along with other revelations, poses a significant challenge for Sunak, who has attempted to distance himself from the chaotic leadership of Johnson, despite being one of the senior ministers in that administration.
Furthermore, Sunak has faced criticism for his “Eat Out to Help Out” policy in the summer of 2020. The initiative, which aimed to revive the struggling hospitality industry by offering meal subsidies, received backlash from health experts who argued that it contributed to the spread of the virus. One government scientific adviser even dubbed Sunak as “Dr. Death” due to concerns over the potential consequences of the policy.
As the inquiry continues to unfold and more evidence comes to light, it remains to be seen how these revelations will impact the perception of Sunak’s leadership and the government’s overall response to the pandemic.