Rishi Sunak reportedly said UK should ‘let people die’ during COVID-19 pandemic

Rishi Sunak reportedly said UK should 'let people die' during COVID-19 pandemic
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A recent inquiry into Britain’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed a concerning quote from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

According to Patrick Vallance, the former chief scientific adviser to the government, then-finance minister Sunak during a meeting with then-prime minister Boris Johnson, reportedly said that the government should “just let people die” rather than impose a second national lockdown.

Vallance made a note of the meeting in his diary on October 25, 2020, which was presented to the inquiry on Monday.

The diary also recorded how Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s most senior adviser during the pandemic, relayed to Vallance what he had heard at the meeting.

Vallance quoted Cummings in his diary as saying: “Rishi thinks just let people die and that’s okay. This all feels like a complete lack of leadership.”

According to a spokesperson for Sunak, the prime minister would set out his position when he gives evidence to the inquiry “rather than respond to each one in piecemeal”.

The inquiry, which is due to run until the summer of 2026, is examining the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic that shut down large sections of the economy and killed more than 220,000 people in Britain, Reuters reported.

Senior government officials have repeatedly said the government was unprepared for the pandemic and a “toxic” and “macho” culture hampered the response to the health crisis.

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The danger for Sunak is that evidence at the inquiry undermines his attempt to cast himself as a change to the chaotic leadership of Johnson even though he was one of the most senior ministers in that government.

Previous evidence has shown he was branded “Dr Death” by one government scientific adviser over his “Eat Out to Help Out” policy in the summer of 2020, which subsidised meals in pubs and restaurants but was criticised by health experts for spreading the virus.

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