05:56 GMT25 October 2020
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    UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under fire for his initial response to COVID-19 as reports emerged in spring that he failed to attend five emergency meetings in January and February of the Civil Contingencies Committee, also known as Cobra, which deals with major crises

    London mayor Sadiq Khan revealed in a Q&A on LBC Radio on Friday that he has not spoken to the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson since 10 May, which is also the last time the national emergencies committee Cobra met, despite the country facing “the biggest health, economic and social crisis since the Second World War.”

    The politician, who previously served as an MP for Tooting, suggested this could indicate that the UK government “doesn’t like having their polices, their ideas challenged”, which he says often happens during Cobra meetings which deal with such crises as terrorist acts or natural catastrophes.

    "The reason why Cobra is important, by the way Cobra works, we know it works because when there's a terror incident Cobra meets, and it's successful at dealing with terror incidents. We know that in the past during previous incidents, Cobras have met and have led to resolutions”, the mayor said.

    He also referred to a regular Cobra session as “a grown-up conversation, [where] people are tested and challenged,” as the party politics is usually left behind the door. "And the only thing we can conclude from this is that the Government does not like being challenged," he added.

    Sadiq Khan, Boris Johnson, and Jeremy Corbyn at London Bridge Vigil
    Matt Dunham
    Sadiq Khan, Boris Johnson, and Jeremy Corbyn at London Bridge Vigil

    Khan noted that the UK government is maintaining close “bilateral” contacts with First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, and Wales’s First Minister Mark Drakeford, but confirmed that his communication with Britain’s PM remained limited.

    "And you have not had any personal contact with Boris Johnson since 10 May,” the prorgamme’s host James O’Brien asked.

    “No, No,” Khan replied firmly.

    The mayor then stated that the UK's capital is “two weeks behind” the rest of the country in imposing coronavirus restrictions, adding he was “really worried” about a surge in cases across London. Khan later said in a statement that it was “increasingly likely” that “additional measures will soon be required” in London to slow the spread of infections.

    “The best thing for both public health and the economy is new restrictions imposed early, rather than a full lockdown when it’s too late – but the Government must urgently ensure there is a fully functioning testing system,” the mayor urged.

    Johnson has said before that the UK is witnessing a "second wave” of COVID-19, which he argues was “inevitable”. He was criticised in the spring for appearing to react slowly and casually to the health crisis in its early stages, as reports suggested in April that throughout the first two month of this year, when the pandemic was just kicking in, Johnson failed to attend five emergency Cobra gatherings. The Number 10 spokesman later defended his behaviour saying he was actually “at the helm” of the COVID-19 response.

    According to the UK government's most recent data, Britain has registered more than 385,900 cases of coronavirus in the whole period of the pandemic and 41,700 of these have died - one of the highest death tolls of the disease in Europe.

    London, coronavirus, COVID-19, Cobra, Boris Johnson, Sadiq Khan, United Kingdom
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