Boris Johnson has been told to take responsibility and apologise for his government’s failings during the coronavirus crisis.
During PMQs, the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said that there is “no doubt” that mistakes by the UK Government had cost many thousands of lives.
It comes after Johnson’s former senior adviser Dominic Cummings gave evidence to MPs in which he said that people died unnecessarily because of the Government’s failings.
“128,000 people have died of coronavirus in the United Kingdom. This morning, the Prime Minister’s most senior former adviser Dominic Cummings apologised on behalf of the UK Government,” said Blackford.
“He said, ‘when the public needed us most, we failed’. We know that the Prime Minister made a series of catastrophic errors throughout the crisis. He went on holiday when he should have been leading efforts to tackle the pandemic.
“He was too slow to go into lockdown, he failed to secure our borders. He sent millions of people back to their offices prematurely.
“There is no doubt that these mistakes cost many thousands of lives. When even a disgraced figure like Dominic Cummings is willing to own up and apologise, isn’t it time that the Prime Minister does the same?”
Johnson responded: “I take full responsibility for everything that has happened and as I’ve said before, he will recall, both in this House and elsewhere, I am truly sorry for the suffering that the people of this country have experienced.
“But, I maintain my point that the Government acted throughout with the intention to save life and protect the NHS and in accordance with the best scientific advice. That’s exactly what we did.”
Blackford said the UK Government had a “circus act” at a time when serious government was needed to tackle the crisis.
He told the Commons: “The evidence we’ve heard this morning is extraordinary, but sadly not surprising.
“It paints a familiar pattern of behaviour – a negligent prime minister more concerned with his own self-interest, than the interests of the United Kingdom.
“When people were dying, the United Kingdom government was considering chicken pox parties and joking about injecting the Prime Minister with Covid live on TV.
“We had a circus act when we needed serious government. Isn’t it the case that when the country needed leadership most, the Prime Minister was missing in action?
“Thousands have paid the ultimate price for his failure. When will the Prime Minister finally accept responsibility for the failures of his government?”
Johnson acknowledged that people across the UK deserve to have “daylight shone” on the issues raised.
He responded: “As I’ve said repeatedly in this House, I take full responsibility for everything that the Government did and will continue to do so.
“And one of the reasons we’ve set up an independent public inquiry is I believe the people of this country do deserve to have daylight shone on all the issues he raised.
“I must say, I don’t recognise the events that he describes, but I do think that we acted throughout with the intention of saving life, of protecting the NHS and of taking the country through the worst pandemic for 100 years.
“And I think it’s also true that we’re in a much more fortunate position now thanks to the efforts of the British people and the fastest vaccine roll-out in Europe and I’m grateful for that as well.”