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PM says pandemic will stay with him ‘as long as I live’ as he faces day of scrutiny

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Boris Johnson is set to be grilled by senior MPs over his handling of the pandemic as he admitted the events of the past year would live with him for the rest of his life.

The Prime Minister will spend Wednesday afternoon in front of the Liaison Committee, made up of Commons select committee chairs, in which he will be asked about his response to coronavirus after the UK marked the anniversary of the first national lockdown.

The session will take place after Mr Johnson’s weekly sparring with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons.

Mr Johnson, conceding that there were “many things that we wish we’d done differently” at the outset of the pandemic, said the past 12 months had been a “distressing period”.

He told a Downing Street press conference: “I certainly think that this is something that we will all remember and be dealing with in different ways, certainly in my case, for as long as I live.

“It’s been an extraordinary moment in our history, a deeply difficult and distressing period.”

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said there had been a “litany of errors” from Mr Johnson during the crisis and that “lessons must be learnt”.

The comments came after a day of mourning on Tuesday for those who had lost their lives during the pandemic.

People across the UK took part in a minute’s silence to remember Covid-19 victims, with MPs and peers in both Houses of Parliament and ministers in the devolved nations marking the anniversary at midday, while NHS and social care workers also joined the pause for reflection.

The Queen reflected on the “grief and loss felt by so many” as she paid tribute to the service of health and care workers in a message to St Bartholomew’s Hospital, where the Duke of Edinburgh had heart surgery.

Mr Johnson confirmed that a “fitting and a permanent memorial” would be built in memory of those who had died.

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