This is not going to improve BoJo's image across the Channel. After the "Partygate" scandal, here is the "scientific" scandal that the former Prime Minister did not see coming. Boris Johnson often seemed "confused" by the scientists tasked with explaining the evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic, and it was "horrific" to see him trying to understand the statistics, a former science adviser to the government said on Monday.
Interviewed as part of the public inquiry into the management of Covid-19, Patrick Vallance had to comment on excerpts from his diary written during the pandemic, in which he does more than scratch the scientific skills of the former Prime Minister.
In one of his notes, dated May 4, 2020, he wrote: "The prime minister is clearly confused." Ten days later, he claims that he "continues to get confused about the different types of tests (he understands them in a meeting, and then he forgets)."
Sir Patrick Vallance's notes on Boris Johnson's lack of understanding of what's going on.#CovidInquiry pic.twitter.com/kIwB7Etlih
— Haggis_UK 🇬🇧 🇪🇺 (@Haggis_UK) November 20, 2023
'Not his strong point'
As recently as June 11, 2020, Patrick Vallance wrote that "watching the Prime Minister try to understand the statistics is horrible," adding that on several occasions he took his head in his hands to show his displeasure. In front of the committee, he drove the point home, recalling that Boris Johnson "gave up science when he was 15 years old and I think he would be the first to admit that it's not his strong suit".
However, he says his counterparts in other countries may have experienced similar difficulties with their own leaders. Since the start of this public inquiry, other testimonies from Boris Johnson's former advisers have overwhelmed the ex-prime minister, describing him as overwhelmed by events, with little regard for the victims, in a country very hard hit by the pandemic with more than 230,000 deaths.
Tensions between scientists and the executive branch
Boris Johnson finally had to resign in the summer of 2022, swept away by the "Partygate" scandal, the parties organized in Downing Street during the pandemic in the middle of lockdown. After examining how the country was prepared for the health crisis, the commission of inquiry, which is supposed to last at least three years and is chaired by Justice Heather Hallett, is now looking into the governance and political management of the outbreak of the virus.
Read alsoBoris Johnson still mired in "Partygate" because of new photos
During his hearing, Patrick Vallance, who was privately rebuffed for defending an early lockdown of London at the very beginning of the pandemic, explained the sometimes difficult relationship between scientists and the executive. This is evidenced by another memo from July 2020, in which the former scientific adviser to the government claims that during a meeting in July 2020, the then finance minister, Rishi Sunak - now prime minister - had blurted out: "It's all about managing the scientists, not the virus".