What we learned from Dominic Cummings' marathon Commons Q&A

Tens of thousands of people died unnecessarily due to the government’s failure on the coronavirus, and Prime Minister’s Boris Johnson was “not fit for the job,” Dominic Cummings said.

The former advisor to the prime minister said Mr Johnson dismissed the pandemic as a “scary story” or a new “swine flu” in early 2020 as the global crisis loomed, and then had to be persuaded to conclude in March.

Mr Johnson then ignored scientific advice when asked about a breaker in September before saying he would rather see “bodies piled high” than announce a third lockdown, Mr Cummings said.

Mr. Cummings apologized to the public, saying that ministers, officials and advisers were “catastrophically” below the standards they should expect in a crisis.

During a seven-hour marathon session with the Commons’ health and science committees, Cummings claimed Mr Johnson was not a “suitable person” to help get Britain through the pandemic.

Here are the main headlines from the responses he gave to MPs …

‘We are sorry’

Mr Cummings began his evidence with an apology for the government’s failure during the coronavirus pandemic.

He said, “The truth is that high-level ministers, high-level officials and high-level advisers like myself have catastrophically failed to meet the standards that the public can expect from their government in such a crisis.

“When the public needed us most, the government failed.

“I want to say to all the families of those who died unnecessarily how sorry I am for the mistakes that have been made and for my own mistakes.”

PM wanted to see Covid live on TV

Mr Cummins claimed Boris Johnson called it the “new swine flu” in February 2020.

He said: “In February the Prime Minister saw this as a terrible story, describing it as the new swine flu.”

When asked if he had told the Prime Minister it was not, Cummings added, “Sure, but the view of various officials in number 10 was that the Prime Minister is running the Cobra meetings and he is just telling everyone so be swine flu, don don’t worry, i’ll get Chris Whitty to inject me coronavirus live on tv so everyone can see it’s nothing to be scared of. That wouldn’t really lead to serious panic.

Independence Day moment

Cummings said the situation on Downing Street in mid-March was like “an Independence Day scene where Jeff Goldblum said the aliens are here and your whole plan is broken and you need a new plan”.

Mr Cummings said March 14th that Boris Johnson was told that models showing the peak “weeks and weeks and weeks away” in June were “totally wrong”.

He said the Prime Minister had been warned: “The NHS will be smashed in weeks, we really have days to act.”

Hancock “should have been fired”

Mr Cummings said Matt Hancock should have been fired for multiple offenses, a move the then cabinet secretary also recommended.

“As in much of the government system, there were many brilliant people at the relatively young and middle levels who were terribly disappointed by the senior management.

“I think the health minister should have been fired on at least 15, 20 things, including lying all over the place in one session after another in the cabinet room and in public.

“There is no doubt that many elderly people have been far, far disastrously below the standards the country can rightly expect. I think the Minister of Health is certainly one of those people.

“I said repeatedly to the Prime Minister that he should be fired, as well as the Cabinet Secretary and many other high-ranking people.”

“Cracker” that Boris is PM

Mr Cummings said it was “completely insane”, Boris Johnson was responsible, and thousands of people in the country could provide better guidance than the prime minister.

He said the fact that the public had to choose between Mr Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn in the 2019 election means that the electoral system “went extremely, extremely badly.”

“There are so many thousands and thousands of wonderful people in this country who could offer better leadership than either,” he said.

“And there is obviously something terribly wrong with the political parties when that’s the best they can do.”

Carrie wanted to get rid of Cummings

Mr Cummings said Mr Johnson’s partner Carrie Symonds was “desperate” to get rid of him.

He said: “I hired Simon Case as permanent secretary at Number 10 this summer because I thought the Prime Minister was not listening to me on this whole subject [Covid], Our relationships are getting worse and worse, his girlfriend really wants to get rid of me and my whole team.

“If I bring someone in who is trying to take over Covid, who a, makes things better and b, they might listen better to Simon Case than to me.”

“Bodies pile up”

Mr Cummings said he heard the Prime Minister say in October that he would rather see “bodies piled high” than place another lockdown on the nation.

“There were a couple of different versions of those stories that were swirling around.

“There was a version of this in the Sunday Times that was incorrect. But the version reported by the BBC was correct.

“I heard that in the Prime Minister’s study. That was not in September, but immediately after he finally made the decision to implement the lockdown on October 31st.”

Hancock lined up as a fall guy?

Mr Cummings has claimed the Prime Minister has been advised to keep Matt Hancock as Secretary of Health because “he is the person you will fire if an investigation comes in”.

The Prime Minister’s former chief assistant told the Commons Committee: “It is definitely the case that the Prime Minister has been told that, contrary to my opinion, he … I fired him, I said almost every week, sometimes almost every day dismiss.”

“However, he was told not to fire him, you should keep him there because he is the person you fire when a request comes in.

“My counter-argument was that if you leave him there, we’ll see more disasters in the fall, and that’s the bottom line.

“Forget the investigation, the investigation, God knows when this the damn thing is going to happen, we have to get rid of this guy now because every week things go catastrophically wrong.”

One last word on the PM

Mr Cummings has said Boris Johnson was not a suitable person to lead the country through the rest of the pandemic.

Sarah Owen of Labor asked, “Do you think Boris Johnson is a suitable person to get us through this pandemic?”

Mr. Cummings replied, “No.”

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