Boris Johnson has scrapped a team of ministers to protect the UK from a pandemic six months before the coronavirus arrives, a Mail investigation found.
The government’s “pandemic committee”, which included senior ministers Michael Gove, Matt Hancock and Gavin Williamson, was disbanded without discussing plans to fight the virus.
The group, officially known as Threats, Hazards, Resilience and Contingency Committee (THRCC), were supposed to make sure the UK was ready for a pandemic.
In July 2019, Boris Johnson scrapped a “pandemic team” just six months before the virus reached the UK, according to a Mail survey
But it was shelved by former Prime Minister Theresa May on the advice of Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill so that ministers and officials can focus on Brexit.
He was abolished by Johnson a few days after joining No10 last July as part of a move to streamline Whitehall.
Six months later, Covid-19 arrived.
Experts say the Prime Minister’s delay in ordering a foreclosure is part of the reason the death toll in the UK is so high.
Last night, a former cabinet minister who was a member of the THRCC until he was eliminated said he could have guaranteed that the government would respond more quickly to the coronavirus, adding, “Once the pandemic has settled in Italy … alarm bells would have sounded.
Senior government officials Michael Gove (left photo) and Matt Hancock (right) were part of the cabinet team to discuss virus control plans
Conservative MP Gavin Williamson (photo) was also part of the pandemic team
“We would have tested the government’s emergency plans to respond to a pandemic.”
The revelation that the committee has been abolished is embarrassing for Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, who would be a member if he was still in office.
In July 2018, he was the Minister of Security behind a report from the Interior Ministry which insisted that the THRCC had a vital role to play against a pandemic.
Wallace’s “biosafety strategy” said that an influenza pandemic was “one of the most serious civil emergency risks facing the UK”, adding: “Such an epidemic could have the potential to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths and cost tens of billions in the UK. of books.
“Large outbreaks are among the highest impact risks facing any society, threatening lives and disrupting public services and the economy. “
The THRCC was a subcommittee of the National Security Council (NSC), which is chaired by Mr. Johnson and composed of heads of intelligence and senior ministers.
Fifteen ministers served on the THRCC, which was chaired by Ms. May’s Deputy Prime Minister, David Lidington. Members included Chancellor Philip Hammond, Minister of the Interior Sajid Javid and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jeremy Hunt.
Former minister said fear of UK heading for Brexit without agreement led to dissolution of THRCC in late 2018 by Sir Mark, adding: “We need to spend more time on exit strategy EU and less to everything else.
Coronavirus pandemic claimed 41,481 lives in UK, nation stranded in late March
“We thought if we had to put our ducks in a row to prepare for the risk of a no-deal scenario, we had to slow down on things like THRCC. “
Former Foreign Secretary of Labor Dame Margaret Beckett, who chairs the National Security Council committee that oversees the NSC, has committed to investigate the destruction of the THRCC as part of a multi-stakeholder investigation into the preparation from government to a pandemic.
She said, “The role of the threats, dangers, resilience and contingencies subcommittee is exactly the kind of thing that will interest us. “
No10 and Mr. Wallace declined to comment. The Cabinet Office said, “The government has taken the right steps at the right time to fight this pandemic. We regularly test our plans in the event of a pandemic. “
Additional reports: Owen Bennett
THE CHIEF NURSE “NO10 BRIEFING OVER CUMMINGS”
No support: England’s chief nurse Ruth May was excluded from a press briefing No10
By Sophie Borland, Daily Mail health editor
England’s chief nurse has been excluded from Downing Street news outlets for refusing to support Dominic Cummings, it has been said.
Ruth May (above) was scheduled to appear on June 1 alongside Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
But during practical questions just before the briefing, she was asked about the Prime Minister’s chief aide and her apparent violation of the lock rules.
She refused to support him and was withdrawn from the event, senior NHS sources said.
Two days earlier, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health Jonathan Van Tam had suggested at the conference that he was concerned about Mr. Cummings’ actions by saying that the lock-in rules “apply to everyone”.
He has not appeared at press conferences since then.
A senior NHS source told The Independent, “Everyone is invited to support government positions before giving a press conference. If they don’t, they’re abandoned.
Ms. May (right) was scheduled to appear with Secretary of Health Matt Hancock (left) on June 1, but was removed after refusing to support Dominic Cummings following the Conservative aid scandal
“It was Dominic Cummings first, then the loosening of the lock and now the R rate and the two meter rule. “
No. 10 denied Ms. May was dropped for her opinion on Mr. Cummings and Secretary of Transportation Grant Shapps said during the daily briefing last night: “I don’t think that’s true. “
Cummings traveled 260 miles to Durham in March with his wife – who had symptoms of the virus – and their son.
He also admitted to driving 30 miles south of the market town of Barnard Castle, saying it was to test his eyesight.