No 10 had head-in-sand mentality at start of Covid crisis, says ex-minister
Downing Street showed an ostrich, head-in-the-sand mentality towards Covid in early 2020 as Boris Johnsons government instead focused on subjects such as Brexit, a former health minister has said.
Speaking to the Institute for Government as part of its ongoing series of in-depth interviews with former ministers about their time in office, James Bethell also said officials did not want him to discuss the potential economic impacts of Covid policies and would delete this from his speeches.
Asked about the health departments interaction with other arms of government, Lord Bethell, who was a whip before becoming a junior health minister, said it could be pretty turbulent.
He said: No 10 didnt want to prioritise the pandemic in early 2020, even though the evidence was mounting there was a post-election, ostrich, head-in-the-sand mentality, which I saw again around the invasion of Ukraine.