Boris Johnson has said he was “deeply, deeply sorry” for the suffering experienced by people during the pandemic.
It came after a Labour MP’s angry and emotional plea for an apology on behalf of those, like himself, who had lost family members during Covid but had been unable to be at their side due to restrictions.
Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the MP for Slough, attacked “sycophantic, spineless, hypocritical” ministers for having defended Dominic Cummings for breaking lockdown, while at the same time instructing the public to stick to the rules.
“My grandmother, whom I loved dearly, was lying on her hospital death bed and none of us were allowed to be there to comfort her in her final moments. I couldn’t even carry her coffin on my shoulders,” Dhesi told PMQs on Wednesday.
Dhesi said: “I also had to endure the agony of watching alone, online, the funeral of my fun-loving uncle, and we were not there to comfort my brother-in-law’s father who somehow contracted Covid in a Slough care home during his final moments. All this because we followed government guidance.
“Having experience of painful personal sacrifices, like many others, imagine our collective disgust when in order to curry favour with the prime minister’s chief adviser (Cummings) we see sycophantic, spineless, hypocritical government ministers lining up to defend the indefensible
“What an absolute disgrace and they should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.”
Dhesi added: “When is the prime minister finally going to apologise to the nation for not mustering up some courage and integrity for doing the honourable thing and sacking his chief adviser, who so shamelessly flouted his own government guidance.
“He could have regained that lost public trust and confidence, and he could have demonstrated that it’s not one rule for him and his elite chums and another for the rest of us plebs.”
Johnson said he took Dhesi’s criticism’s “most sincerely” and that he was “deeply, deeply sorry”.
“I know how much sympathy there will be with him,” Johnson added.
“All I can say is we have tried throughout this pandemic to minimise human suffering, to minimise loss of life.
“When he asks for me to apologise, I do, I apologise for the suffering that the people of this country have endured.
“All I can say is nothing I can say or do can take back the lost lives, the lost time spent with loved ones that he describes.”