Granada Debate: Lessons from the Covid Inquiry need learning quickly

Recommendations from the long awaited public inquiry into the government's handling of the Covid pandemic must be acted upon quickly an MP has said.

Andrew Gwynne, the Labour MP for Denton and Reddish said he feels the pace of the inquiry needs to have more urgency.

“There has always been the spectre of some kind of pandemic and British governments of all colours over the past 20 or 30 years have been preparing for that," he said speaking on June's Granada Debate.

"This Covid Inquiry will hopefully find out whether those preparations were adequate enough. We do have to learn lessons and that's why I support this inquiry.

“I want them to get on with it. I want there to be initial findings published as soon as possible this year so that we can start to look at what we need to do.

"There will be another pandemic of some kind possibly in the near future and we have to make sure we're ready for it this time.”

Bereaved families from across the North West who have been leading calls for the inquiry say action will be needed, and we cannot afford to get it wrong.

Mr Gwynne was joined by Dr Kieran Mullan, Conservative MP for Crewe and Nantwich.

Dr Mullan volunteered for the NHS during the pandemic and urged caution about potentially rushing the inquiry.

He said: “If we use the Shipman inquiry as an example - that took years and years but it produced very substantial changes to the medical regulation system that we're still implementing to this day.

“It's a balance; if you go too quickly you're not in as credible a position to make substantial and significant recommendations but I understand why people want to hear sooner.

“I think it's great that they'll do interim reports to release some findings when they can”

The debate took place on the day that the findings of the Privileges Committee were published which found that former Prime Minister Boris Johnson wilfully mislead parliament over 'Party-gate'.

Kieran Mullan said that he supported the findings but wants to spend some time studying the thirty-thousand word report:

“I spent some time volunteering on the frontline during covid. I was one of the people who had to say to people you can't come and see your relatives so I really do understand how those rules impacted massively on people's lives and therefore as a result why people were incredibly upset when they felt that in Number 10 those rules weren't being followed.

“I thought it was right that the prime minister should step down and it’s why I have very little sympathy for the argument that he hasn't done anything wrong.

“I am inclined to support the committee and they've done a job on behalf of the whole house but I want to take the time to read the whole report because it's very difficult to say what's in the operation of someone's mind when they speak.

“I’m not in any way defending his conduct at the time - clearly it was wrong - but knowing whether he lied when he said what was said is really tricky.”

Andrew Gwynne was unequivocal in his response to the findings:

“What it (the report) does is tells us lying to Parliament is not acceptable whoever it is.

“What you bring to Parliament must be the truth and if it isn't and if you've inadvertently misled Parliament the expectation is that at the first opportunity you come back to the house of commons and you correct the record and you apologise.

“Boris Johnson doubled down until he got caught out. He got caught out by his own lies.

“I think the committee have done a superb job of actually uncovering what we've always known - Boris Johnson is not fit to hold public office and I would say this ‘Poundland Trumpian’ view that he's always right and everybody else is wrong has come unravelled."

Dr Mullan felt that it's probably in the best interests of both country and Conservative party if this is the end of Boris Johnson's political life for now:

“I think what my colleagues want is a focus on delivering for the public and probably all of us now are very frustrated that again we're not getting to focus on the priorities that the Prime Minister has set out.

“I think people haven't got an appetite for melodrama.

“My message to the former Prime Minister: is further melodrama in the benefit or interest of the party or more importantly the country? I'm not sure is”

The Granada Debate returns in July.