Dominic Cummings' biggest bombshells: 20 most damning allegations
Dom’s biggest bombshells: The 20 most damning allegations from Cummings’ testimony
Dominic Cummings tore into Boris Johnson’s premiership before a select committee today, branding the PM ‘unfit for the job’.
The former advisor let loose an extraordinary barrage of allegations against the government in a seven-hour-long session with MPs, claiming Britons had been ‘lions led by donkeys’ and ‘tens of thousands’ of people died needlessly.
Mr Cummings also claimed he heard the Prime Minister say in his study on October 31 that he would rather let ‘the bodies pile high’ than trigger a third lockdown – a claim Mr Johnson has flatly denied.
Here, we recount the 20 most devastating accusations made in today’s hearing.
‘Thousands died needlessly’
Mr Cummings said ‘tens of thousands of people died who did not need to die’ as he conceded he should have been ‘hitting the panic button’ in mid-February but he had been ‘wrongly reassured’ by the WHO and others about the situation in China.
Having bungled the early phase of the crisis, Mr Cummings said the premier opted to ‘hit and hope’ by deciding to shun a second ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown in September, despite entreaties from Chris Whitty and science chief Patrick Vallance, among others.
Mr Cummings said he failed by not advising a shutdown sooner.
He told MPs: ‘There’s no doubt in retrospect that yes, it was a huge failure of mine and I bitterly regret that I didn’t hit the emergency panic button earlier then I did.
‘In retrospect there’s no doubt I was wrong not to.’
Dominic Cummings said Boris Johnson had not taken coronavirus as seriously as he should have at the start of 2020, as the crisis first started snowballing out of control
Boris ‘thought Covid was just a scare story before he caught it’
Dominic Cummings said Boris Johnson had not taken coronavirus as seriously as he should have at the start of 2020, as the crisis first started snowballing out of control.
He said: ‘In February the Prime Minister regarded this as just a scare story. He described it as the new swine flu.
‘The view of various officials inside No10 was if we have the PM chairing Cobra meetings and he just tells everyone ”it’s swine flu don’t worry about it, I am going to get Chris Whitty to inject me live on TV with coronavirus so everyone realise it’s nothing to be frightened of”, that would not help actual serious planning.’
When asked if he had told the Prime Minister that was not the case, Mr Cummings said: ‘Certainly.
‘But the view of various officials inside Number 10 was if we have the Prime Minister chairing Cobra meetings and he just tells everyone ”it’s swine flu, don’t worry about it, I’m going to get (England’s chief medical officer) Chris Whitty to inject me live on TV with coronavirus so everyone realises it’s nothing to be frightened of”, that would not actually help serious planning.’
The Government ‘fell disastrously short’
Mr Cummings said the government ‘failed’ amid the coronavirus crisis, and apologised to families of people who died.
He said: ‘The truth is that senior ministers, senior officials, senior advisers like me fell disastrously short of the standards that the public has a right to expect of its Government in a crisis like this.
‘When the public needed us most the Government failed. I would like to say to all the families of those who died unnecessarily how sorry I am for the mistakes that were made and for my own mistakes at that.’
A lack of preparation in February 2020
The maverick advisor said high-ups did not treat the virus with the necessary sense of urgency until the last week of February 2020.
He said: ‘We didn’t act like it was important in February, let alone January…. No10 and the government were not working on a war footing in February, it wasn’t until the last week of February there was any sense of urgency.’
On the first lockdown: ‘We should have done it weeks before we did’
The former aide to the Prime Minister said it is ‘unarguable’ that the government should have locked down sooner.
He said: ‘In retrospect it is clear that the official plan was wrong, it is clear that the whole advice was wrong, and I think it is clear that we obviously should have locked down essentially the first week of March at the latest.
‘We certainly should have been doing all of these things weeks before we did, I think it’s unarguable that that is the case.’
The former aide to the Prime Minister said it is ‘unarguable’ that the government should have locked down sooner
No10 in March 2020 was ‘like a scene from Independence Day’
Mr Cummings said that in March 2020, as the coronavirus crisis deepened, ‘It was like a scene from Independence Day with Jeff Goldblum saying the aliens are here and your whole plan is broken and you need a new plan.’
Boris was ‘distracted by Carrie and Trump’
The former key aide said Mr Johnson’s partner Carrie Symonds was going ‘crackers’ about a story about her dog while a part of the government was questioning if Britain was ‘going to bomb Iraq’.
Mr Cummings said: ‘It sounds so surreal couldn’t possibly be true… the Times had run a huge story about the Prime Minister and his girlfriend and their dog.
‘The Prime Minister’s girlfriend was going completely crackers about this story and demanding that the press office deal with that.
‘So we had this sort of completely insane situation in which part of the building was saying are we going to bomb Iraq?
‘Part of the building was arguing about whether or not we’re going to do quarantine or not do quarantine, the Prime Minister has his girlfriend going crackers about something completely trivial.’
Cobra meetings are often ‘just going through PowerPoint slides’
Much has been made of Boris Johnson missing Cobra meetings, but Mr Cummings told MPs the gatherings are not that important.
He said: ‘Lots of Cobra meetings are just going through PowerPoint slides and are not massively useful.’
Matt Hancock ‘should have been fired for at least 15 things’
Mr Cummings laid into the Health Secretary, saying he performed ‘far, far below’ the expected standards.
He said: ‘I think the Secretary of State for Health should’ve been fired for at least 15, 20 things, including lying to everybody on multiple occasions in meeting after meeting in the Cabinet room and publicly.
‘There’s no doubt at all that many senior people performed far, far disastrously below the standards which the country has a right to expect.
‘I think the Secretary of State for Health is certainly one of those people. I said repeatedly to the Prime Minister that he should be fired, so did the Cabinet Secretary, so did many other senior people.’
Mr Cummings laid into the Health Secretary, saying he performed ‘far, far below’ the expected standards
On the ‘inevitability’ of herd immunity
Mr Cummings said it was a matter of when ‘herd immunity’ would come about, not whether or not it was a beneficial thing.
He said: ‘It is not that people are thinking this is a good thing, it is that it is a complete inevitability, the only real question is one of timing.
‘It’s either going to be by September or it’s herd immunity by January (2021) after a second peak.’
Cancelling Cheltenham Festival ‘wouldn’t make much difference’
When asked if he advised that Cheltenham Festival be cancelled, Mr Cummings said he did not.
He added: ‘The official advice was that it wouldn’t make much difference to transmission, which was bizarre in retrospect, and that cancelling it could be actively bad as it would just push people into pubs.
‘No one in the official system, in the Department of Health, drew the obvious logical conclusion, which was ‘shouldn’t we be shutting all the pubs as well?’
SAGE secrecy was a ‘catastrophic mistake’
Mr Cummings said Patrick Vallance agreed with him that Sage should be more transparent.
He said: ‘There is no doubt at all that the process by which Sage was secret and overall the whole thinking around the strategy was secret was an absolutely catastrophic mistake, because it meant that there wasn’t proper scrutiny of the assumptions, the underlying logic.
‘Actually Sage agreed with this, when I said on March 11 we are going to have to make all these models public and whatnot, there wasn’t pushback from sage or Patrick Vallance either. Patrick actually agreed with me.’
On Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn: ‘There’s something wrong with the parties if that’s the best they can do’
Mr Cummings said neither Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn were the best people to lead the two major British political parties.
‘There’s so many thousands and thousands of wonderful people in this country who could provide better leadership than either of those two,’ he said.
‘And there’s obviously something terribly wrong with the political parties if that’s the best that they can do.’
Cummings: A well-run entity would have a dictator
Mr Cummings told MPs: ‘In a well-run entity in my opinion you would have had some kind of dictator.
‘If I was PM I would have said Mark Warner is in charge of the whole thing, he has as close to kingly authority as the state has legally to do that, and you’re pushing the boundaries to legality.’
‘Covid is history’: The view of people in government last summer
Mr Cummings claimed that people running Britain thought that the crisis was finished in the summer of 2020.
He said: ‘From the summer fundamentally the view was ”we’re past it now, Covid is history” – which was a terrible, terrible mistake.’
Boris Johnson ‘changes his mind like a shopping trolley smashing from one side of the aisle to the other’
Mr Cummings suggested that after March he did not agree with Mr Johnson on any element of Covid policy.
He said by that stage the premier had decided lockdown was a mistake and he should have been like ‘the mayor in Jaws who kept the beaches open’.
‘I thought that perspective was completely mad,’ he said, adding that the PM was like a ‘shopping trolley smashing from one side of the aisle to the other’.
Senior civil servant: ‘We are absolutely f*****’
Dominic Cummings, former Special Advisor to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves the Houses of Parliament after giving evidence to PM’s in central London
Mr Cummings said on the evening of March 13 the second most senior civil servant at the Cabinet Office, Helen MacNamara, came in and relayed to him the view of another senior official that ‘there is no plan’ and ‘we’re in huge trouble’.
Mr Cummings said she told him: ‘I think we are absolutely f*****’ and warned that ‘thousands’ of people could die.
Despite the rising alarm, at around the same time there were still meetings going on with officials suggesting people should be advised to have ‘chicken pox parties’ to spread the virus more quickly.
Boris Johnson ‘said he should have been the mayor of Jaws’ and thought ‘we should never have done the first lockdown’
Mr Cummings said that after April, there was no proper border policy because the Prime Minister ‘never wanted a proper border policy’.
He said: ‘We’re imposing all of these restrictions on people domestically but people can see that everyone is coming in from infected areas, it’s madness, it’s undermining the whole message that we should take it seriously.
‘At that point he was back to, ”lockdown was all a terrible mistake, I should’ve been the mayor of Jaws, we should never have done lockdown 1, the travel industry will all be destroyed if we bring in a serious border policy”.
‘To which, of course, some of us said there’s not going to be a tourism industry in the autumn if we have a second wave, the whole logic was completely wrong.’
The government ‘was turning down ventilators in late March’
When asked why he described the Department of Health as a smoking ruin, Mr Cummings said there was no system there to deal with emergency procurement.
He said: ‘When the PM tested positive we were told that the Department of Health had been turning down ventilators because the price was marked up.
‘It completely beggars belief that this kind of thing was happening.
‘We were told the PPE would not arrive for months because it would take that long to ship. ”But why are you shipping it?”… ”That’s what we always do.”
‘I told them to fly it… at that point you had Trump getting the CIA involved to get the fast track on PPE.
‘Everything was like wading through treacle, that’s why I described it as a smoking ruin.’
‘The Cabinet Office is terrifyingly s***’: Cummings’ text to PM
Mr Cummings said one of the critical things that was ‘completely wrong’ in official thinking at Sage and the Department of Health in February and March was, firstly, that the British public would not accept a lockdown, and secondly, they would not accept a ‘kind of East Asian style track and trace type system, and the infringement of liberty around that’.
He added: ‘Those two assumptions were completely central to the official plan and were both obviously completely wrong.’
Mr Cummings said he felt ‘mounting panic’ about the response and was pushing on March 11 and 12 for the Government to announce that individuals should stay at home if they had symptoms and households should quarantine.
But he said there was ‘push back from within the system’ and ‘me and others were realising at this point the system is basically delaying announcing all of these things because there’s not a proper plan in place’.
He added: ‘As far as I could tell from Sage, and as far as the minutes show, the fundamental assumption remained we can’t do lockdown, we can’t do suppression, because it just means a second peak.’
Mr Cummings said March 12 was a ‘completely surreal day’, starting with him texting the Prime Minister at 7.48am saying: ‘We’ve got big problems coming.
‘The Cabinet Office is terrifyingly s***, no plans, totally behind the pace, we must announce today, not next week, ”if you feel ill with cold or flu stay at home”.
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