THE PRIME Minister has announced a public inquiry into the handling of the coronavirus pandemic is to begin next year.

Boris Johnson told MPs that the investigation would begin in Spring 2022, and would involve working with devolved governments.

He said that "Team UK" should "learn lessons together in the same spirit", and explained: "We will consult the devolved administrations before finalising the scope and detailed arrangements so that this inquiry can consider all key aspects of the UK response."

He added: "This inquiry must be able to look at the events of the last year in the cold light of day and identify the key issues that will make a difference for the future.

“Free to scrutinise every document to hear from all the key players and analyse and learn from the breadth of our response.

“That’s the right way, I think, to get the answers that the people of this country deserve and to ensure that our United Kingdom is better prepared for any future pandemic.”

Mr Johnson also announced he was establishing a "commission for Covid  commemoration", explaining: "This national endeavour, above party politics, will remember the loved ones we have lost, honour the heroism of those who have saved lives and the courage of frontline workers who have kept our country going; celebrate the genius of those who created the vaccines and commemorate the small acts of kindness, and the daily sacrifice of millions who stayed at home, buying time for our scientists to come to our rescue." 

Sir Keir Starmer welcomed the announcement about the inquiry, but said it should start sooner, preferably later this year.

He also said his meetings with families of those who have lost relatives to the virus "have been amongst the most difficult I've ever had in my life."

He said that families had "searing questions about what happened" during the pandmemic, and explained: "It is good that the government is consulting the devolved authorities, of course it is.

"But the government must also consult the families, because this inquiry will only work if it has the support and confidence of the families and I urge the Prime Minister and the government to consult the families at the earliest possible moment.

"The government should also consult those on the front line."