Dominic Cummings has savaged Boris Johnson and his government during a blistering seven hours of testimony to MPs on Wednesday about the response from Number 10 to the pandemic.
“Tens of thousands of people died who didn’t need to die” during the pandemic because of government failings, said Cummings, who claimed the prime minister dismissed the virus as a “scare story” in February 2020, and called it the new “swine flu”.
The prime minister’s former chief adviser said Johnson is “unfit for the job” and accused the health secretary Matt Hancock of being a serial liar who should have been sacked.
Hancock “should have been fired for at least 15-20 different things including lying to everybody on multiple occasions in meeting after meeting in the Cabinet room and publicly”, said Cummings.
The claims have been denied by the health secretary who said he had not seen Cummings’ evidence, adding: “Instead I’ve been dealing with getting the vaccination rollout going, especially to over-30s, and saving lives.”
Cabinet secretary ’lost faith in the health secretary’s honesty’
However, Cummings’ comments have been echoed by health professionals who say their colleagues’ claims of PPE shortages, and the care home scandal – claims that were repeatedly dismissed by the government as false – have been vindicated.
Cummings began his evidence to a joint hearing of the Commons health and science committees with an apology about his own performance during the pandemic and an admission that he – and other senior advisers – failed the country.
Johnson regretted not being more like the mayor in Jaws
The PM’s most senior adviser during the country’s worst crisis since 1940 said the leadership had fallen disastrously short of what was expected and that the prime minister was too slow to grasp the seriousness of the situation, had been more concerned about the economic impact of the pandemic and acted far too slowly to lockdown.
The resulting disaster caused tens of thousands of needless deaths which, shockingly, could have been even worse.
Johnson, according to Cummings, repeated through the autumn his regret that in the spring he had not been more like the mayor in Jaws, who in the movie, kept the beaches open despite the shark attacks.
‘Decisions taken will be a matter for the inquiry’
As Cummings continued his testimony, MPs gathered in the Commons for PMQs, where Sir Keir Starmer asked Johnson if he said, when delaying autumn’s circuit breaker, as Cummings had just claimed, that “Covid was only killing 80-year-olds”.
Johnson did not deny the statement but instead replied that the decisions taken “will be a matter for the inquiry,” adding, “we took them in the best interests of the British people.”
Starmer called for Johnson to bring forward the independent public inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic and to start it “as soon as possible”, a point to which the prime minister swiftly replied: “No.”
Perhaps the biggest question of all, after Cummings’ seven hours of testimony, is, will any of it matter?
Covid-19 on death certificates of 152,068 people
Nine more people in th UK have died in the latest 24 hour register of people who have died within 28 days of a positive test for Covid-19 – bringing the total number of deaths to 127,748. The total number of deaths of people with Covid-19 on the death certificate is 152,068.
The UK also registered 3,180 positive tests, the highest number of new cases in a 24 hour period since April 12 when 3,568 were recorded.