Boris Johnson shared the view of one of his ministers that some Covid regulations seemed ‘inhumane’ in retrospect, while arguing it was impossible to rule out another lockdown in the future.
In an interview with GB News conducted by two Tory backbenchers, Philip Davies and Esther McVey, Johnson also argued that “a lot of nonsense” had been said about the lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street.
Davies and McVey, both skeptics of the lockdown, quizzed the Prime Minister on Monday on comments by Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Brexit opportunities minister, who said some lockdown rules had been “nasty and inhumane”.
When asked if he was okay with it, Johnson replied, “Yes. I do. And I think some of them – I understand why people feel that, and I think people have felt that especially the loss of the ability to see their loved ones in care homes or to meet properly for funeral. I mean, it was just appalling, not to mention the loss of religious services that mean so much to people’s minds. So I completely understand that.
Asked about the possibility of a full lockdown in the future, Johnson said he couldn’t rule it out, while stressing that the main focus would be “to go for the inoculation and vaccination program the as soon as possible”.
Pressed on lockdowns, he said: “Look, I think it would be irresponsible for any leader, in any democracy, to say they are going to rule out something that could save lives. And I believe the things we’ve done have saved lives. There could be – I have to be absolutely frank with you – there could be a new, more lethal variant, there could be a variant that seriously affects children, that we really need to contain. I’m not going to take any options off the table.
“But I don’t think that will happen. I think we’re now in the phase of – and that’s the view of all advisers I speak to – that we’re now in the phase where the virus is losing potency overall and we have a massive UK population vaccinated.”
Asked about parties in and around Downing Street, for which some officials have been fined by police, and for which Johnson himself faces a fine, he largely declined to discuss the issue.
“About what actually happened…a lot of nonsense has been said, but I just think it’s much better if I wait for the conclusion of the investigation before saying anything more,” said Johnson. “I said I won’t comment on it, what I will do is say a lot more at the end. And what we do, I have to let the police do their job.
Asked about his Covid episode two years ago, which involved a stint in intensive care, Johnson said his oxygen saturation levels had dropped into the 80s by percent.
“You should be around 94 per cent, or above 94 per cent, blood oxygenation and I think when I came in I was somewhere in my 80s I think and then I had a pretty groggy night and, you know, I went down even lower,” Johnson said.
He said doctors told him he needed to be hospitalized. “It was not my idea at all. I think when you go through something like that, you don’t really think about it in those terms.
“I was thinking about, you know, everything I had to do. I mean, I was literally, I spend most of my time thinking, ‘I wish I could get out of here because I’m pretty sure I have to do a press conference tomorrow morning, I’m pretty sure I have to make an announcement or something.