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Key moments: Rishi Sunak’s Covid Inquiry evidence

(Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

It’s week nine of the UK Covid Inquiry – and time for the Prime Minister to face the music. Today, Rishi Sunak has his turn in the hot seat, as new polling shows that the public now belatedly disapprove of his lockdown measures. Quelle surprise. Meanwhile his ‘allies’ – including, er, Jacob Rees-Mogg, are cited in the Telegraph as arguing that the Covid Inquiry has already decided that Sunak’s push to reopen hospitality after the first lockdown was harmful. Find the highlights below…

Hecklers

Today’s session did not get off to the best start for Sunak after he was heckled upon arrival. ‘Lives are more important than money!’ cried one protestor, as other shouts could be heard in the background. Unlike with his predecessor’s evidence, however, Sunak has so far not had to deal with any protests inside the Inquiry room…

Sunak’s apology

The PM followed in the footsteps of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove by taking time at the start of his hearing to issue an apology. His voice catching a little, Sunak addressed ‘all those who suffered in various different ways’. The Prime Minister added that ‘it’s important we learn the lessons’ from the pandemic. ‘I look forward to giving evidence in the spirit of constructive candour.’ Was that a slight dig, perhaps, at the lead counsel? After all, some suggest that Hugo Keith is more interested in ‘gotcha’ moments than, er, actually finding out what went wrong…

The mystery of the deleted WhatsApps

WhatsApp messages – or the lack of them – have dominated much of the post-pandemic discourse. Sunak himself has been implicated as many of his own messages from the beginning of the pandemic have not been retained. The PM was adamant with the Inquiry that he was not a ‘prolific user of WhatsApp in the first instance’, but admitted that he has changed his phone a number of times, losing many messages in the process.

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Steerpike
Written by
Steerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk or message @MrSteerpike

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