Covid Inquiry: Boris Johnson said people worried about returning to workplaces were ‘malingering and work-shy’

The former Prime Minister also thought consulting with employees and trade unions was "bollocks"

Boris Johnson walking up a set of stairs smiling

The former Prime Minister said workers who were worried about returning to work after the pandemic were “malingering work shy people”, the Covid inquiry has heard.

Boris Johnson also thought consulting with trade unions about back-to-work measures was “bollocks”, extracts from Professor Sir Patrick Vallance’s diary have claimed.

According to the diary from July 2021, Johnson dismissed consulting with workers or unions about concerns regarding returning to work after the pandemic, in his haste to remove all restrictions and get people back into workplaces.

“We can’t have the bollocks of consulting with employees and trade unions. They need to all come back to work,” the diary reads.

“All the malingering work shy people.”

The Trades Union Congess has pointed out in response that the law states, ‘staff and unions have to be consulted on safety in workplaces’.

Sir Patrick Vallance was the Government’s chief scientific adviser at the time and his diary extracts have been read out during the ongoing Covid Inquiry.

This diary entry shines a light on a time when the cabinet was discussing possible voluntary mask-wearing and ending restrictions. Johnson is also reported in the extract to have called mask wearing “bollocks”. The whole meeting is then referred to by Sir Vallance in his diary as “political posturing” from the ministers involved.

The extract goes on to read: “CMO and I made risks very clear.. nearly all of them super keen to remove all restrictions.. Barclay says social distancing should also be removed in hospitals.”

Sajid Javid, the former Health Secretary under Johnson’s administration, was today being grilled during the inquiry, during which he suggested that Johnson often said things to “lighten the mood”. Dominic Raab the former deputy prime minister was also up to give evidence today.

(Image credit: Andrew Parsons / Number 10 – Creative Commons)
Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

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