The guy who served as Boris Johnson’s most senior advisor at the height of the coronavirus pandemic has apologized publicly for the UK government’s answer to the catastrophe, which he’s said dropped”disastrously short” of what the public should expect.
Dominic Cummings, who quit his post from Downing Street last November, told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that”when the public had us most the government collapsed. And I’d like to say to each of the families of those who perished unnecessarily that I am sorry.” So far, more then 127,000 British citizens have died within 28 days of a positive Covid test.
Throughout his evidence, Cummings appeared eager to paint himself as being alert to the seriousness of this pandemic in January 2020, long before others in government were taking it seriously. He maintained his former coworkers”failed to find the smoke” when Asian nations, especially Taiwanhit the”panic button” around the turn of the year.
He explained that senior government officials were occupied with other activities, be they , in Cummings’ words,”literally skiing,” which meant the government was not on a”war footing” early enough.
Cummings claimed the Prime Minister thought the coronavirus to become little more than a scare story and would say things just like he wanted to have England’s chief medical officer”inject him with Covid” live on air to demonstrate it was nothing to be concerned about.
Central to Cummings’s criticism of Johnson and his administration is a lack of preparedness, resulting in lockdowns being postponed and policies like herd immunity being pursued.
Cummings maintained he first told Johnson the UK had to be placed under tough lockdown steps on March 11, 2020. National lockdown wasn’t enforced until March 23.
Cummings listed numerous reasons for this delay, which range from a belief that the British people would not go together with”Wuhan-style” steps, to external distractions. These ranged from then-US President Donald Trump desiring the UK to join a bombing mission in the Middle East, to stories about Johnson’s fiance, Carrie Symonds, being mad about stories in newspapers about the couple’s pet. But finally, his main accusation was that the government was only unprepared and the strategy in place now was predicated on falsehoods.
The prior adviser also criticized the government’s relatively poor data at the beginning of the pandemic. When asked what was informing decisions, Cummings said that early on, the only data the government could work with before April was numbers he was writing on a whiteboard of entry to hospital intensive care units. He would then multiply these amounts on his iPhone to demonstrate where the situation might be in five days’ time.
“When you are looking at ICU admission as your only form of data, you know you are in trouble,” Cummings said.
On herd resistance, Cummings asserted that the government was functioning on an assumption that nothing can be done to stop the virus spreading and that vaccines would not be”relevant in 2020.” He explained that UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock was”totally wrong” when he said on March 15, 2020, that herd immunity wasn’t part of the government’s plan, since”herd immunity was considered as an inevitable fact.”
Past the pandemic, Cummings criticized the whole system of British politics, stating that a system which provides a choice between Johnson or the former president of the resistance, Jeremy Corbyn”something’s gone extremely, extremely, incorrect.”
He painted the Prime Minister as a guy”a thousand times too obsessed with the media” and stated that the Health Secretary must have been sacked for numerous reasons, including”publicly lying.”
He painted a picture of an insular political system which promotes the wrong types of people and gives them incentives that don’t result in the ideal form of governance.
When asked when he was only giving evidence to settle private scores, Cummings said he believes the families of those who perished”deserve the facts.”
Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon, Johnson defended his government’s actions during the pandemic. Without directly addressing Cummings’ claims, he accused his opponents of appearing in”the rear view mirror” while his administration pressed on with its vaccination program.
An almost mythical figure
Critics of Cummings have already questioned his legitimacy as a witness. During the period of time that his signs concerns, he was arguably the most senior man working inside Downing Street, besides Johnson.
He repeatedly won battles along with other police officers, cementing his complete authority as the most significant man in Johnson’s inner circle. Johnson’s own affection for Cummings was known. The Prime Minister had on more than one event called his former primary advisor a”genius” who he”adored” during private events at which Daily Reuters was current. During Cummings’ period in government, he’d often attend press briefings and lurk at the back, watching his subordinates at work, much to their discomfort. Meanwhile, journalists would flock around a guy who had become an almost mythical figure.
It is so extremely unlikely that the perspectives of Cummings were ignored or sidelined in the height of this pandemic.
It’s also worth noting that Cummings is discredited for different reasons, most especially time he drove his wife and kid hundreds of miles throughout the country during a nationwide lockdown after coming down with Covid-like symptoms.
According to Ben Page of people research firm IPSOS Mori,”Cummings was the number one reason people gave when describing why they broke lockdown restrictions. He is a really unpopular and discredited man”
Also affecting the validity of the evidence is that fact that Cummings quit his position in the middle of a factional battle at the heart of Downing Street that he and his allies are believed to have dropped. This, critics have argued, may be the key motivating factor behind any attacks on Johnson’s inner circle that do not connect to the pandemic.
No matter how magnificent the words of Cummings might be to people watching, the reality is the majority of the country will not be as fixated as those in the Westminster bubble. The combo of Cummings’ bad standing and the fact that the UK’s vaccine rollout has gone means this narrative is likely to blow repeatedly.
But, despite Johnson’s comparative success in the latter stages of this pandemic, the public might sooner or later recall all of the early missteps, especially when the inevitable public question will get underway.
The leader of the official opposition, Keir Starmer, said Cummings’ proof was”the newest chapter of a story of confusion, chaos and lethal misjudgements.” And while Johnson could be on course to get a joyous summer of lockdown’s ending, there’s a risk that at some point, this may play into a wider, damning retrospective of how his government collapsed the country in its hour of need.