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Gove admits PM missed five Cobra meetings in the pandemic run-up

MICHAEL GOVE admitted today that Prime Minister Boris Johnson missed five Cobra meetings in the run-up to the coronavirus outbreak in Britain.

The government’s early handling of the crisis fell under the spotlight over the weekend after an investigation by the Sunday Times found ministers had missed a number of opportunities to lessen the impact of the pandemic, while supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) had been allowed to shrink due to austerity measures imposed by Conservative governments from 2010. Despite a 2016 pandemic drill concluding that the NHS would face drastic shortages of PPE and ventilators if a pandemic struck, ministers did not act on its recommendations.

Mr Johnson had skipped five Cobra meetings earlier this year, the Times reported, attending his first only on March 2 when almost 40 cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed across the country. 

Today the Cabinet Office Minister told Sky News suggestions the PM had skipped meetings on the coronavirus response were “grotesque.” 

However later that morning, Mr Gove accepted the reports, saying it was “normal” for a PM to not attend these meetings. 

He argued that the meetings are “led by the relevant secretary of state” with information being relayed to the PM. 

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “There are serious questions about the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

“The severity of this crisis has been clear for some time and the public will want to know why the Prime Minister skipped five Cobra meetings.”

A senior adviser who spoke to the Times said that the PM “liked his country breaks,” and didn’t work at weekends.

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