Sajid Javid apologized today for the government’s Covid ‘failures’ and insisted it ‘will be learned from it’.
The health minister insisted he was “sorry” for the losses and suffering – after a cabinet colleague sparked anger earlier this week by refusing to apologize 11 times in an interview.
But speaking to broadcasters, Mr Javid also appeared to be taking a swipe at Pastor Matt Hancock by pointing out that he was personally “out of government when many of those crucial decisions were being made.”
Mr Javid, who was fired as chancellor in a reshuffle in January 2020 but was brought back as health minister when Mr Hancock resigned in June this year over an affair with an assistant, said: ‘I was a humble back seat. ‘
The first major study into the Covid crisis was published Tuesday and concluded that thousands of nursing home residents died needlessly during the pandemic, and that ministers were blinded by ‘groupthink’ among scientific advisers who mistakenly wanted to control the spread of the virus, rather than then. to suppress it.
The dossier also claimed No10’s early decisions on lockdowns and social distancing as ‘one of the most significant public health failures the UK has ever witnessed’.
Sajid Javid insisted he was ‘sorry’ for the losses and suffering – after a cabinet colleague sparked anger earlier this week by refusing to apologize 11 times in an interview
Mr Javid also appeared to be taking a swipe at Pastor Matt Hancock (pictured) by pointing out that he personally was ‘out of government when many of those crucial decisions were being made’
But Cabinet Secretary Stephen Barclay faced a backlash after refusing to apologize 11 times during an interview on Sky News on Tuesday.
What were the main findings of the first Covid report?
The UK’s first Covid study was published this week by MPs from the health and science committees in the House of Commons.
It revealed a catalog of failures all the way to the top of government, angering families who lost loved ones. Pressure is mounting to launch an independent, judge-led investigation as soon as possible.
Key findings included:
- Thousands of care home residents died needlessly during the pandemic, with the elderly being treated as an ‘afterthought’;
- The performance of the £37 billion test and trace system was ‘chaotic’;
- Early decisions on lockdowns and social distancing are ranked as ‘one of the most significant public health failures the UK has ever witnessed’;
- Ministers were blinded by “groupthink” among scientists, who mistakenly wanted to control the spread of the virus rather than suppress it;
- The UK’s response was too ‘closely and rigidly based on a flu model’ that failed to draw lessons from Sars, Mers and Ebola;
- This was a “serious early mistake” when other countries took drastic action;
- The lack of a proper testing and tracing system in the beginning meant that a full lockdown was ‘inevitable’ and should have come sooner;
- Decision-making was dysfunctional with the exchange of key information between government agencies ‘inadequate’;
- Mortality rates among black, Asian and ethnic minorities and people with learning disabilities were unacceptably high.
Tory chairman Oliver Dowden took a much soothing tone yesterday, saying he was “very sorry” and admitting that “we hadn’t done everything right”.
When asked this morning on BBC Breakfast if he regretted the ‘failures’ that had occurred, Mr Javid said: ‘Yes, of course I am sorry.
“Obviously I’m new to the role, but on behalf of the government, I’m sorry for everyone who has suffered during the pandemic, especially anyone who has lost a loved one, a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a friend. Of course I regret that.
“Even all those people who may not have lost someone but who are still suffering – there are a lot of people who are unfortunately suffering from prolonged Covid, we still don’t know what the impact of that is. Of course I am.
“There will be lessons to be learned from this pandemic for this government, for governments around the world there will be lessons. It is important that this is done.
“There’s going to be a public inquiry and I think that’s the best place to learn these lessons.
“But if you ask me if I’m sorry, of course I will.”
Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today program what mistakes he apologized for, Mr Javid said: ‘What I am saying is sorry for the loss people have suffered and how they have been affected. I don’t think I’m in a position to go back and look at every decision that’s been made and how we can do it.”
Pressured as he thought he was wrong as an MP to argue for greater weight on economic needs during the pandemic, Mr Javid said: “No, I don’t, based on the information I have and also from what I know.’
He added: “I’ve been in this job for 100 days and I wasn’t in government when many of those crucial decisions were made. I was a humble backseat.”
Mr Javid revealed that he has not yet read all the reports from the Commons Science and Health Committees on the pandemic.
“It’s one report and I welcome the report. I haven’t had a chance to study every word of the report. I’ll study it carefully this weekend,” he said.
Keir Starmer has said saying sorry is the “least thing the Prime Minister can do” and insisted that a planned public inquiry be put forward.
Sir Keir added: ‘The Prime Minister must take responsibility because the responsibility is his, and he must apologise.’
Mr Johnson has promised that a formal inquiry into the government’s response to the pandemic will begin in the spring of 2022, but an exact date has yet to be set. When he announced the probe, he insisted that the protagonists be put “under the microscope.”
Labor had originally called for the investigation to start in June this year, in line with No10’s lifting of virus restrictions. There are currently virtually no Covid restrictions on everyday life in England.
Dominic Cummings has berated his old boss for his handling of the pandemic, labeling the prime minister a “joke”.
The report published by the House of Commons health and science committees is the first to shed light on the list of failures made at the top of government.
Among other things, it denounced the ‘chaotic’ performance of the £37 billion testing and tracing system, although it said the vaccination campaign had been a significant success.
Minister Stephen Barclay refused to apologize 11 times for the government’s failure at the start of the pandemic when he was on Sky News earlier this week. Former top adviser Dominic Cummings has called Boris Johnson a ‘joke’