PM missed five coronavirus Cobra meetings, Gove admits

Michael Gove has conceded that Boris Johnson missed five consecutive emergency meetings in the buildup to the coronavirus crisis, and that the UK shipped protective equipment to China in February. The government faced intense pressure on Sunday over its initial response the pandemic, as Labour accused Johnson of having been “missing in action” during the crucial weeks when the virus first arrived in the UK. Asked on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday show whether Johnson missed five meetings of the government’s Cobra emergency committee, and about the shipment of hundreds of thousands of items of personal protective equipment (PPE) to China during February, Gove refused to comment. But in a subsequent interview on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show, Gove, who holds the cabinet role of chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, accepted that both were correct. The five meetings Johnson missed came during a period in late January and February where he spent an entire parliamentary recess out of sight at his official country retreat of Chequers, prompting Labour to accuse him at the time of being a “part-time prime minister”. After ordering pubs, bars, restaurants, theatres, gyms and leisure centres across the country to close indefinitely, Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressedthe public on March 23; outlining strict exercise and shopping limits, ordering all shops other than food stores and pharmacies to close, and implementing a ban on public gatheringsof twoor more people. First Secretary of State Dominic Raab, while deputising for Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he recovered from coronavirus (COVID-19), announced on April 16that theU.K.lockdown would continue for at least another three weeks. A rise in the popularity of baking during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown appears to have caused many major supermarkets across the UK to suffer a shortage of flour in recent weeks. Over 125,000 birthday cards were sent to Captain Tom Moore, who raised over £30 million by walking 100 laps of his 25 metre (82 feet) garden before his 100th birthday, which were organised in the Great Hall of the temporarily-closed Bedford School in Bedford, England on April 28.   NHS workers hold a minute's silence outside the main entrance of Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, England on April 28. Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a statement, while flanked by windows showing children's drawings of rainbows supporting the NHS, on his first day back at work in Downing Street after recovering from a bout of coronavirus (COVID-19) that put him in intensive care, in London, England on April 27. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) warned the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic could see the U.K. economy shrink by a record 35 percent by June.  A man wears a religious placard on Market Street in Manchester, England on March 25.  Workers sell food and household items to local residents from their ice cream van at a supported housing estate in west Belfast, Northern Ireland on April 1. Soldiers and private contractors help to prepare the ExCel centre in London, which is being made into the temporary NHS Nightingale hospital comprising two wards, each of 2,000 people, to help tackle coronavirus, on March 30.  Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a press conference on the ongoing situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with chief medical officer Chris Whitty (L) and Chief scientific officer Sir Patrick Vallance (R) in Downing Street after he had taken part in the government's emergency Cobra meeting in London, England on March 16. Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, told the Ridge show that Gove had given “possibly the weakest rebuttal of a detailed expose in British political history”. Gove rejected the idea that on aspects of the response to the virus, including PPE and testing, the government had consistently been playing catch-up, arguing that it had instead been “considered”.