Dominic Cummings says Covid response fell ‘disastrously short’ and apologises for own mistakes
The PM’s former adviser claimed key officials were “literally skiing” in mid-February, as he told a joint inquiry of MPs about the lack of urgency. “When the public needed us most the government failed.”
Mr Johnson played down Covid as a “scare story” in February 2020, Mr Cummings claimed. He also suggested the PM offered to “get Chris Whitty to inject me live on TV” to show there was nothing to fear.
Describing chaos in government and the lack of a lockdown plan in early March, Mr Cummings claimed the deputy cabinet secretary said: “We are completely f*****.”
He compared it to the “out of control” disaster movie Independence Day, “with Jeff Goldblum saying ‘the aliens are here … you need a new plan’”.
Cummings’ bombshell claims: Midday summary
As we approach PMQs at 12noon, here’s what Cummings has claimed so far:
– Cummings says it’s “crackers” that Boris Johnson is PM – and claimed the political system that gives people a choice between Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn has gone “terribly wrong”.
– Cummings says the PM regarded Covid as a “scare story” in February and wanted to be injected on TV to show there was nothing to fear.
– Cummings says Matt Hancock should have been fired for “lying” about preparedness – saying the minister tried to blame PPE shortages the head of NHS England.
– Cummings says Johnson and others on 11 and 12 March that the existing plan was “completely flawed” and the government had to change course.
– Cummings says there was chaos during the second week of March – like “an out-of-control movie” – as the government realised there was no lockdown plan.
Adam Forrest26 May 2021 11:59
Cummings wanted ‘dictator’ to get rid of the ‘spidermen’
Dominic Cummings has said he would have preferred one, all-powerful central figure in charge during the Covid crisis – a kind of “dictator” who would have “pushed the legality”.
He said things too often felt like the spiderman meme “with the spidermans pointing at each other” and avoiding responsibility.
He explained: “You had Hancock pointing at the permanent secretary, and the permanent secretary pointing at Hancock, and they’re both pointing at the Cabinet Office, and the Cabinet Office is pointing back at them.”
Adam Forrest26 May 2021 11:44
Cummings admits he spoke to Kuenssberg
Dominic Cummings has said the main person in the media he spoke to during 2020 was the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg.
“The BBC has a special position … I could give guidance to her on very big stories,” he explained.
Adam Forrest26 May 2021 11:38
Boris Johnson being prime minister is ‘crackers,’ says Cummings
Dominic Cummings has now attacked his old boss. He said Boris Johnson being in Downing Street as prime minister is “crackers,” suggesting he was one of the senior people who is “completely out of his depth”.
He told MPs: “Any system which gives you the choice between [Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn] … is obviously a system that has gone extremely badly wrong.”
“There are so many thousands of people who could obviously provide leadership better than those two.”
Cummings said Johnson was “about 1,000 times far too obsessed with the media, undermining him doing his job”.
He said the Covid crisis was a classic case of “lions led by donkeys”.
Cummings added: “In any sensible, rational government it is completely crazy that I should have been in such a senior position. I’m not smart. I’ve built big things in the world.”
Boris Johnson ‘completely out of his depth,’ says Cummings
Adam Forrest26 May 2021 11:16
Cummings praises chancellor Rishi Sunak
Dominic Cummings has offered some praise for chancellor Rishi Sunak. “There have been reports and accusations that the chancellor was the person trying to delay things in early March,” he told MPs. “That is completely wrong.”
He added: “I think the chancellor did a fantastic job on furlough… creating the plan out of thin air in just a few days.”
Adam Forrest26 May 2021 11:13
Hancock should have been fired for ‘15 to 20 things’
Dominic Cummings has said Matt Hancock should have been fired for “at least 15 to 20 things” – including “lying to everybody on multiple occasions”.
He said Hancock lied about preparedness and tried to blame PPE shortages the head of NHS England.
Cummings added: “I said repeatedly to the prime minister that he should be fired. So did the cabinet secretary. So did many other senior people.”
He claimed the cabinet secretary had said: “I have lost confidence in the secretary of state [Hancock]’s honesty in these meetings.”
Adam Forrest26 May 2021 10:58
Cummings compares pre-lockdown chaos to Independence Day
Dominic Cummings said he told Boris Johnson on 14 March he had to bring in a lockdown, but added: “There was no lockdown plan… it doesn’t exist.”
He compared it to the 1990s alien disaster movie Independence Day. “The whole thing felt like an out of control movie.”
Cummings said: “This is 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.’”
Adam Forrest26 May 2021 10:47
‘There is no plan… the country is f*****’
Dominic Cummings said deputy cabinet secretary Helen Macnamara said on 13 March: “There is no plan. We are completely f*****. Thousands are going to die.”
Cummings also said “part of the building was arguing about whether to bomb Iraq, part of it arguing about whether to have a lockdown, and the prime minister’s girlfriend was going crackers about something completely trivial”.
Lockdown delay led to warning UK was ‘absolutely f—-d’, Cummings says-.mp4
Adam Forrest26 May 2021 10:34
I wanted lockdown on 12 March, says Cummings
Dominic Cummings has said he wanted lockdown on 12 March – 11 days before it actually happened. “By the 11th and 12th [of March] we had already gone terribly wrong,” he told MPs.
“I was ringing increasing alarm bells in the first half of March,” he said.
Cummings claimed “very smart people” were telling him as early 25 February that the government should take “aggressive” action on the virus and should consider it might require a lockdown.
He said that in retrospect, the lockdown should have been brought it in the first week in March, at the latest, around three weeks before it actually happened.
Adam Forrest26 May 2021 10:29
Johnson wanted to be injected with Covid on TV, Cummings suggests
Boris Johnson “regarded [Covid] as a scare story – he described it as the new swine flu”, Dominic Cummings has told MPs. He claims the PM offered to get injected with Covid on TV to play down fears.
“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 Chris Whitty to inject me live on TV with coronavirus so everyone realises it’s nothing to be frightened of’ that would not help serious planning.”
Adam Forrest26 May 2021 10:08