UK Covid inquiry makes clear the full extent of Boris Johnson's unsuitability for government
and live on Freeview channel 276
Evidence from senior civil servants and former aides suggest someone totally unfit for the role. As the virus began to spread across the world, he did not take it seriously, laughing at the Italians for shutting schools and imposing a lockdown, boasting about shaking hands with people in hospital and taking a break to write a book about Shakespeare and finalise his divorce settlement.
Once Covid arrived here there was, according to former deputy cabinet secretary Helen MacNamara, a "breezy confidence that we would do better than others" and an "unbelievably bullish" attitude where everything the UK did was groundlessly described as “world-beating”.
And Mr Johnson kept changing his mind about how the government should react – at times seeming to accept the advice of scientific advisers about measures to combat the spread, but then giving vent to his idea that the virus was "just nature's way of dealing with old people" who "will die anyway soon" and ought to "accept their fate".
Cabinet secretary Martin Case, the UK's most senior civil servant, wrote of Mr Johnson in WhatsApp messages: "He cannot lead and we cannot support him in leading with this approach. The team captain cannot change the call on the big plays every day. Government isn't actually that hard but this guy is really making it impossible. This is in danger of becoming Trump/Bolsonaro level mad and dangerous."
He even latched, Trump-like, onto hare-brained DIY cures for the disease, sending the chief medical and scientific officers a YouTube video of a man using a hairdryer to blow hot air up his nostrils, asking if this could be a solution. Sir Chris Wormald, the top civil servant at the Department of Health, told the inquiry Britain was "at least a week late at all points" in imposing restrictions.
And, of course, there was all the rule-breaking. Ms MacNamara – who had to resign for her part in organising a karaoke party – confessed it would be hard to find a single day when the Covid rules were "followed properly" in Number Ten.
Current prime minister Rishi Sunak, who was chancellor during Covid, does not come out of the inquiry smelling of roses either. His "Eat out to help out" scheme of discounts for meals was privately labelled "Eat out to help out the virus" by chief medical officer Sir Patrick Vallance. Another adviser referred to Mr Sunak as "Dr Death".
And in one of the most extraordinary revelations, the inquiry heard that the then Health Secretary Matt Hancock thought that he, rather than medical professionals, should be the one to decide who lived and who died.
Former Daily Telegraph editor has described Boris Johnson as “the most selfish and irresponsible human being I have ever met”. Yet despite everything that has been heard at the Covid inquiry, some commentators and Johnson backers still talk about him making a comeback. Surely it is time for everyone to make clear that the idea someone whose attitudes and behaviour are so arrogant, callous and reckless could ever return to power is unthinkable.