Boris Johnson to face questions on Covid, Hancock and more from MPs at Liaison Committee today

The decision to fully lift restrictions on 19 July while scrapping masks and social distancing will likely be scrutinised

Boris Johnson will be quizzed by MPs on the Liaison Committee later today, as concern mounts over the plans to lift all remaining restrictions later this month.

The Prime Minister will likely face questions on the decision to scrap face-coverings and social distancing, the Hancock affair and much more during the session.

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At a glance: 5 key points

Boris Johnson to face questions on Covid, Hancock and more from MPs at Liaison Committee today  (Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson to face questions on Covid, Hancock and more from MPs at Liaison Committee today (Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

– The Prime Minister will appear at the Liaison Committee at 3pm today. This is a committee made up of the chairs of all the other departmental Select Committees

– MPs will have plenty to ask Johnson about, and the two hour session will be split into sections; COP26, Covid, Brexit and a catch-all/miscellaneous section

– The final section could prompt the most difficult and/or interesting questions, and the PM could expect to be asked about the Hancock affair, recent claims by his former aide Dominic Cummings or the rapidly unravelling scandal around health minister Lord Bethell

– MPs who will quiz Johnson include Labour’s Clive Betts and prominent Tory rebels, Caroline Nokes, Greg Clark, Robert Halfon and Tom Tugendhat

– Prior to the select committee appearance, Johnson will face a grilling from Labour leader Keir Startmer at PMQs

What’s been said?

Speaking at Monday’s press conference, the Prime Minister said: “We must be honest with ourselves that if we can't reopen our society in the next few weeks, when we will be helped by the arrival of summer and by the school holidays, then we must ask ourselves: when will we be able to return to normal?"

Speaking to BBC news, health secretary Sajid Javid said: “We are in uncharted territory and that’s true across the world, not just the UK. The case numbers could be 50,000 per day by July 19 and during the summer I expected them to keep increasing until they start falling. But the point is, the really important point is, and I understand why people would be concerned, is to really reassure everyone listening about the impact of the vaccines.

“In terms of take up, we have the best take up of any large country in the world. Four fifths of adults have had at least one jab, three fifths of adults have had two jabs, and by July 19th every adult will be offered at least one jab”

Chief Medical Officer for England, Chris Whitty, said: “Since there’s a lot of COVID at the moment and the rates are going up I regret to say I think we will get a significant amount more long COVID, particularly in the younger ages where the vaccination rates are currently much lower.

“Fundamentally the two ways to prevent long COVID in my view are to keep COVID rates right down and make sure everyone is vaccinated so they get very mild disease and I think we really just need to push hell for leather for those two.

“The deaths from COVID I think are mercifully going to be much lower in this wave compared to the previous ones as a proportion of cases but long COVID remains, I think, a worry. We don’t know how big an issue it’s going to be but I think we should assume it’s not going to be trivial.”

Responding to questions about the Hancock allegations on 25 June, before his resignation, the PM’s spokesperson said: “The prime minister has accepted the health secretary’s apology and considers the matter closed.

On 28 June, when Johnson was asked whether the affair had undermined public health messaging, he said: “That’s right, and that’s why when I saw the story on Friday we had a new secretary of state for health in on Saturday.”