Did Brexit help or hinder the UK’s pandemic response? Matt Hancock, the former health secretary, appeared at the Covid-19 inquiry yesterday, where during three hours of questioning from Hugo Keith KC, he confirmed that almost 20 workstreams on pandemic planning were paused, reduced or stopped because of a shift in focus to Brexit at the end of 2018. But he said the World Health Organization had reassured the UK that its pandemic plans were up to scratch and blamed a “doctrine” in Britain and across the Western world that meant the UK planned for the “consequence of a disaster” instead of trying to stop it. He said the government’s focus was on “can we buy enough body bags?” rather than “how do we safely lockdown?”. Hancock, who quit government after breaking Covid rules by kissing an aide, attempted to approach bereaved families after giving testimony. They turned their backs on him.
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