Dominic Cummings: 10 key claims so far
In the highly-anticipated Dominic Cummings committee meeting, the former chief adviser to the PM has made a whole load of explosive claims about how the government handled the pandemic.
Here are 10 key points so far from Cummings’s evidence.
Dominic Cummings kicked off the (so far) 6-hour committee meeting with an apology.
“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.”
Govt reaction to Covid-19
Dominic Cummings said the government was not on a “war footing” when Covid first emerged in January and February 2020 and “lots of key people were literally skiing.”
Boris Johnson’s ‘scare story’ reaction
“In February (2020) the prime minister regarded this as just a scare story, he described it as the new swine flu.”
Cummings said he told PM Boris Johnson that Covid was not like the new swine flu.
“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 (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 help actually serious panic.”
Cummings said the government’s official plan early last year was herd immunity. He said he was “completely baffled” as to why the government has denied it.
“It’s not that people were thinking this is a good thing and we actively want it, it’s that it’s a complete inevitability and the only real question it’s one of timing, it’s either one of herd immunity by September or it’s herd immunity by January after a second peak. That was the assumption up until Friday, 13 March.”
Cumming said Matt Hancock was “completely wrong” on 15 March when he said herd immunity was not part of the plan.
Lockdown delay a ‘huge failure’
Cummings said the UK should have been in lockdown in the first week of March at the latest and it was a “huge failure” on his part to not alert the PM.
“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.”
Downing Street in mid-March 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”, said Cummings – one of several movie references he has made.
He said the PM was warned: “The NHS is going to be smashed in weeks. Really we’ve got days to act.”
‘One crazy day’ – Carrie goes ‘crackers’
Explaining one “crazy” day, Cummings discussed Downing Street on 12 March – the day a national lockdown was being considered.
Dominic Cummings said the “national security people came in” and said, “Trump wants us to join a bombing campaign in the Middle East tonight” and this “totally derailed” meetings about coronavirus.
At the same time, “the prime minister’s girlfriend was going completely crackers” over stories in the press about her dog.
Cumming said part of the building was talking about bombing Iraq, part was talking about household restrictions, and “the prime minister’s girlfriend was going completely crackers about something trivial.”
“On this crazy day of the 12th, we are sitting in the prime minister’s office, we’re talking about the herd immunity plan.
“The cabinet secretary (Mark Sedwill) said ‘Prime minister, you should go on TV tomorrow and explain the herd immunity plan and that it is like the old chicken pox parties. We need people to get this disease because that’s how we get herd immunity by September.’
“And I said, ‘Mark you have got to stop using this chicken pox analogy. It’s not right.’ And he said ‘why?’ And Ben Warner said: ‘Because chicken pox is not spreading exponentially and killing hundreds of thousands of people’.”
Matt Hancock ‘should have been fired’ for 15-20 things
Dominic Cummings said Matt Hancock “should have been fired for at least 15 to 20 things”.
“I think there is no doubt at all that many senior people performed far, far disastrously below the standards which the country has the right to expect. I think that 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.”
Care homes failures
“Complete nonsense,” is what Cummings said about the government’s claims it put a shield around care homes.
“We were told categorically in March that people would be tested before they went back to homes, we only subsequently found out that that hadn’t happened,” he said.
“Quite the opposite of putting a shield around them, we sent people with Covid back to the care homes.”
The infamous Barnard Castle
Back in March, Cummings was slammed for travelling from his home in London to Barnard Castle during lockdown.
He told the committee, that he moved his family out following security threats – including threats against life.
He said it was a “terrible mistake” not explaining the full story but says what he said about testing his eyesight was true, but he failed to explain the whole story or what was happening.
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