So who is in the crosshairs – and why?
Before becoming Prime Minister, Johnson was accused of being too casual and out of control of the details, particularly when he was Minister of Foreign Affairs. This week it emerged that he had not attended five high security Cobra meetings in January and February which were held to prepare for a possible pandemic. The allegation was published by the Sunday Times and later confirmed by Michael Gove. During this period, Johnson took breaks in the countryside with his pregnant fiancée – fueling concerns that he had not taken the threat seriously enough at an early stage.
These fears grew stronger after it appeared that on February 3, he claimed that the United Kingdom was ready to be a free trade “superhero” fighting against those who wished to erect trade barriers to stop diseases such as coronavirus. Emboldened by these claims, the government has long argued for Johnson’s treatment of the crisis and said the Sunday Times was guilty of “a series of lies and mistakes.” Gove said it was not unusual for other ministers to chair Cobra meetings.
Matt Hancock, Secretary of Health
No other minister has been pressured more than Hancock, who has been accused of bragging about too much and delivering too little – especially to test the delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline NHS workers. .
His commitment to deploy 100,000 tests a day at the end of April seemed overly ambitious when he did so earlier this month – and with only one week to go, the target seems unattainable.
Although the UK has the capacity to do around 40,000 people a day – the actual number of tests carried out was 18,206 on Tuesday.
The bragging “will also come back to bite him,” according to a Downing Street insider quoted in the Daily Telegraph.
Another big problem for Hancock was the purchase of fans. He said the UK needs 18,000 machines – but so far there are only 10,700 in action. Critics say he focused on big brands like Dyson making them from scratch, rather than helping preexisting UK fan makers increase supply.
On April 3, he boasted of companies manufacturing PPE in the domestic market and sent a “cry to Burberry” for their offer of help. Weeks later, Hancock admitted they were “tight-knit,” and British companies have repeatedly complained that their dealings with the government have been withheld, with reports Monday from some companies sending equipment shipments abroad.
Patrick Vallance, Chief Government Science Advisor, and Chris Whitty, Chief Physician
Both were praised for their calmness in dealing with the crisis at first, but their roles have come under scrutiny, not least because ministers continue to insist that they have made decisions. based on the advice they give them.
Critics of the government will say that ministers cannot shirk the responsibility of making key decisions – but there is undoubtedly enormous pressure on Vallance, Whitty and the teams around them.
The concept of collective immunity was first raised by Vallance on March 13 with a comment that it could be “an important part of control [coronavirus] longer term “. His remark raised alarm among the public as the UK continued to allow mass gatherings, while European neighbors banned sports facilities and closed schools.
The phrase was quickly shot down by Hancock who said it was not a “government goal or strategy”. A few days later, a scientific report was published by the Covid-19 response team at Imperial College London, which said that without urgent and aggressive crackdowns, up to 250,000 people could die.
Whitty once conceded that Germany “got ahead” in testing people for Covid-19 and said the UK needs to learn from it as it attempts to set up diagnostic facilities from zero.
Sir Mark Sedwill and the civil service
The role of the cabinet secretary in the center of government is crucial – Sedwill is the national security adviser, head of the public service, and it is incumbent on him to tell the cabinet that Johnson has been placed in intensive care. This made him the target of sniping unnamed government officials for a number of weeks.
Sources said in The Times and The Sunday Times that he failed to contain the coronavirus crisis in February; one of them, quoted in the Financial Times, even claimed that he fell out with Johnson and his colleagues about the response to the virus.
Cabinet Office insiders retaliated, calling the claims “crap” and tending to blame officials who cannot speak. Sedwill, who has enemies among Johnson’s advisers and in the cabinet, is unlikely to accept any attempt to blame the fault without fighting.
Following Donald Trump’s attempts to label Covid-19 a “Chinese disease,” several ministers sought to highlight the regime’s failures to fight the disease in December and January.
When pressured by a lack of testing in the UK, Michael Gove seemed to blame the UK’s lack of preparation for coronaviruses in China.
“Some of the reports from China were unclear on the scale, nature, and infectivity of this,” he said.
His comments followed the Downing Street briefings, saying ministers expected a “judgment” with China on misinformation – British scientists said the death toll in China could be 40 times that who was officially announced, while Chinese doctors who tried to report were silenced.
Many scientists have pointed out that China has voluntarily shared the genetic code for the virus very quickly, allowing countries to start diagnostic testing and work on vaccines.
World Health Organization
The United Nations agency, which is responsible for raising the global alarm during major disease outbreaks, has been accused by Trump of failing to test China’s claims and of repeatedly praising the Communist government for his answer.
Downing Street has joined in criticism, saying that the WHO response to the pandemic in China has shown that there is room for “improving its response” to such emergencies.