Boris Johnson has said he is “deeply, deeply sorry” for the loss of lives in the past 12 months due to coronavirus (Covid-19).
The death toll
The prime minister faced calls to “apologise” for the UK’s death toll a year on from the outbreak of coronavirus in the country. On 17 March, Labour’s Richard Burgon aid Johnson should “hold up his hands” to the fact he has overseen a death toll “six times higher” than the 20,000 figure which was considered “a good outcome” one year ago.
Johnson said he takes “full responsibility” for the government’s actions in the past year during the pandemic and that “there will be time for a full inquiry” into what took place.
Speaking during PMQs, Burgon (Leeds East) said a year on from the outbreak of coronavirus in the UK it is clear that “the Prime Minister dithered and delayed with deadly consequences”.
He told the Commons:
Exactly one year ago today we were told that 20,000 coronavirus deaths would be, and I quote, ‘a good outcome’ – yet our death toll is now six times higher. Over 100,000 more people have lost their lives than that initial estimate. In March last year the Prime Minister pontificated about taking it on the chin; others acted decisively with lockdowns.
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But the Prime Minister dithered and delayed with deadly consequences.
With the worst hopefully now behind us, isn’t it time for the Prime Minister to hold up his hands and come clean with the British people and say those deaths are on me and for that I apologise?
Well, I certainly take full responsibility for everything the Government did and of course we mourn the loss of every single coronavirus victim and we sympathise deeply with their families and their loved ones.
Am I sorry for what has happened to our country? Yes of course I am deeply, deeply sorry.
Of course there will be time for a full inquiry to enable us all to understand what we need to do better when we face these problems in the future, and that is something I think the whole House shares.
Johnson also defended the Government’s proposed 1% pay rise for NHS workers. Labour’s Tahir Ali (Birmingham, Hall Green) said:
Throughout the last year NHS staff have been working tirelessly to keep our communities healthy and safe during the pandemic.
I would like to ask the Prime Minister why has he been economical with the truth when he says that a 1% pay increase is all the Government can afford?
Johnson claimed he had not been economical with the truth. He added:
What we are saying is that we so value the incredible contribution of nurses to our country over the last year or more that we want them, exceptionally of all the public services, to be looked at for a pay increase at a time of real difficulty in the public finances, which I think people do understand.
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