Dominic Cummings blasts Boris Johnson over COVID-19 crisis
- Dominic Cummings labels UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as “unfit” to handle the COVID-19 pandemic
- UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock denies Mr Cummings claims against him
- Lockdown roadmap could be delayed due to rapidly spreading Indian COVID variant
- US President Joe Biden calls for further investigation into origins of COVID-19
During a marathon seven-hour evidence session, former chief aide to Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, labelled the UK Prime Minister’s early COVID-19 plan a disaster.
Mr Cummings painted a picture of failure, indecisiveness and awful decisions, explaining that the British government had an abysmal plan for handling the coronavirus pandemic.
The former chief aide placed most of the blame on the UK Prime Minister, and Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock, whom he said was almost fired in April 2020.
He said that he was frustrated with how long it took for Matt Hancock to set up the test and trace system and had told Mr Johnson that failure to fire the Health Secretary or set up testing quickly enough would result in the death of many people.
Matt Hancock has since rejected Mr Cummings claims and will be questioned over the allegations in a House of Commons summons on Thursday.
A Downing Street spokesperson also stepped in to defend the UK Health Secretary, stating, “Matt Hancock and everyone else at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) worked tirelessly under unprecedented circumstances to protect the NHS and save lives.”
Still, a significant deal of worrying information was brought up during the seven-hour examination, with Dominic Cummings alleging that the UK Prime Minister failed to grasp the gravity of the situation.
Dominic Cummings brands Boris Johnson as unfit to be Prime Minister
Mr Cummings accused Boris Johnson of being media-obsessed and likened the constant U-turns in policy to a “shopping trolley smashing from one side of the aisle to the other.”
When asked whether the British Prime Minister was fit to lead the country through the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Cummings responded by saying “no.”
The ousted aide apologised for his failings as the chief adviser and admitted that the entire UK government had fallen “disastrously short of the standard Britons have a right to expect from those governing the country during a crisis like COVID-19.”
During his blistering attack against the UK Prime Minister and other ministers spearheading the pandemic response, he said that if Boris Johnson had imposed national lockdown orders earlier, we could have avoided “tens of thousands of deaths.”
Other accusations in Dominic Cummings confession included:
- Hearing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson mutter that he’d rather see “bodies pile high” than enter another lockdown
- There was no sense of urgency to introduce tougher restrictions or steps to protect vulnerable people and priority groups
- Boris Johnson described COVID-19 as another “swine flu”
- Matt Hancock’s constant lying urged the Cabinet secretary and Mr Cummings to call for the UK Health Secretary to be fired
- Ministers knew that testing in care homes was not consistent but failed to address the issue or take action
- Boris Johnson’s fiancée, Carrier Symonds, interfered in recruitment decisions to secure employment roles for friends in a manner that was “unethical” and “illegal”
- UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak supported lockdown measures, but Boris Johnson was against it
- Rishi Sunak and the Treasury had to create a scheme for financial aid within a few days as it was never on the UK government’s agenda
- The Cabinet Secretary deliberately excluded Boris Johnson from Cabinet Office Board Room A (COBRA) meetings as he failed to recognise the severity of the COVID situation
- Downing Street was reluctant to close the borders as some officials claimed it would be tantamount to “blaming China”
Although Mr Cummings has been accused of being bitter after being dismissed by his former boss, he is one of the first leading figures from Downing Street to offer an inside perspective on the handling of the COVID crisis.
His comments have also triggered growing calls for a public inquiry to be expedited, with the former chief adviser describing the scenes that unfolded at Downing Street as utterly chaotic.
However, other ministers such as Matt Hancock and UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps have jumped to Downing Street’s defence.
Grant Shapps criticised Mr Cummings for speaking out in hindsight and raised questions over his credibility as a witness given his failings.
Mr Cummings admitted that his lockdown-breaking trip to Durham was a “disaster” but that “senior ministers, officials and other advisers” also fell short of public expectation.
He noted that Boris Johnson refused to impose a second lockdown in September as he said the coronavirus was “only killing 80-year-olds.”
Dominic Cummings also highlighted that during a Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer provided Mr Johnson with the opportunity to deny the remark, but the Prime Minister brushed it off.
The former aide acknowledged that he played a part in the chaos and apologised to the victim’s families for his mistakes.
It comes as official data shows that Britain recorded more than 3,000 COVID cases on Thursday for the first time since April due to the rapidly spreading Indian variant.
Should Brits be worried about the Indian COVID variant?
According to GOV.uk, the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 rose to 3,542 on Thursday, May 27th – an 18% jump on the same day the previous week.
The figure also confirmed that the infection rate had reached its highest level since April 7th, when 3,114 COVID cases were recorded.
Although deaths remain in the single digits, “Professor Lockdown” Neil Ferguson has warned that the growing spread of India’s B.1.617.2 strain could hinder UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s lockdown roadmap timetable.
Professor Ferguson said that as the Indian variant has spread to half of England’s local authorities, it was impossible to say whether the June 21st final unlocking can go ahead as planned, especially if data shows that this COVID strain is more transmissible.
However, “Professor Lockdown” did strike an optimistic note, stating that Britain’s massive vaccination drive is in a much stronger position than it was in December when the Kent variant was running rampant across the country.
According to the latest government data, nearly 40 million people in the UK have received at least one COVID jab, while 24,043,956 adults are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Boris Johnson also expanded England’s vaccine rollout to include over 30-year-olds today after it emerged that the Indian variant had become the dominant strain in Britain.
Although there has been no data suggesting that the Indian COVID variant is more lethal than other coronavirus strains, experts hope that the accelerating vaccine rollout will prevent the surge of another deadly wave.
Professor Ferguson also suggested that the nation would be able to cope with the B.1.617.2 variant if it were up to 30% more transmissible than the Kent strain – a concept that the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) group say is probable.
He also noted that evidence suggests that young people under age 21 are more likely to contract the Indian COVID variant than other strains, which is a relief to some degree, as older age groups are at higher risk of developing severe disease.
However, Professor Ferguson said it remains unclear whether this trend is due to biological enhancement or a reflection on the environment in which the virus was spreading.
Today, it also emerged that US President Joe Biden urged intelligence firms to double down on efforts to source the origin of COVID-19, claiming that China has not been “transparent enough.”
US President Joe Biden orders investigation into COVID origins
US President Joe Biden has ordered a new intelligence report on the origins of COVID-19, admitting that US intelligence is divided on whether the virus was created in a laboratory or came from an animal.
According to the latest news reports, US intelligence had been working with a group of World Health Organisation (WHO) scientists, who had visited China to research how the pandemic began.
Working alongside experts in China, the WHO group visited Wuhan – where the first cases were reported – and spoke with coronavirus patients, local responders and scientists, after which they concluded that COVID-19 was transmitted from animals to humans.
However, US President Biden believes that the information submitted was insufficient and has called for a deeper probe into the origins of SARS-CoV-2.
Mr Biden asked for US intelligence laboratories to assist with the investigation and urged China to cooperate fully.