The Prime Minister’s former aide shared a host of Whatsapp messages with the BBC which reportedly showed the Prime Minister saying in October 2020 that he did not “buy all this NHS overwhelmed stuff”.
The messages appeared to have been sent from Mr Johnson’s number to aides on 15 October - the month which saw the UK death toll exceed 60,000 and weeks ahead of the Prime Minister being forced to announce another national lockdown.
In the messages, Mr Johnson appeared to be pushing back against the idea of a second lockdown.
“I must say I have been slightly rocked by some of the data on Covid fatalities. The median age is 82 to 81 for men 85 for women,” the messages read.
“That is above life expectancy. So get COVID and live longer. Hardly anyone under 60 goes into hospital (four per cent) and of those virtually all survive.
“And I no longer buy all this NHS overwhelmed stuff. Folks I think we may need to recalibrate.
“There are max 3m in this country aged over 80. It shows we don’t go for nationwide lockdown.”
In an interview with the BBC, which airs on Tuesday, Mr Cummings claimed Mr Johnson was saying at this point that the first national lockdown had been a mistake.
He said the Prime Minister’s attitude at that point “was a weird mix of, partly it’s all nonsense and lockdowns don’t work anyway and partly well this is terrible but the people who are dying are essentially all over 80 and we can’t kill the economy just because of people dying over 80.”
He accused Mr Johnson of “put[ting] his own political interests ahead of people’s lives for sure”.
Mr Cummings also claimed that he had to stop Mr Johnson going to see the Queen in person at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, when staff in Number 10 were already falling ill and the Prime Minister had already instructed the public to avoid all unnecessary contact, especially with the elderly.
He told the BBC’s Political Editor, Laura Kuenssberg: “I said, ‘what are you doing?’ and he said, ‘I’m going to see the Queen’ and I said, ‘what on earth are you talking about, of course you can’t go and see the Queen.’
“He said: ‘that’s what I do every Wednesday, sod this, I’m gonna go and see her.’”
Mr Cummings continued: “I said to him [Boris Johnson], ‘there’s people in this office who are isolating, you might have coronavirus, I might have coronavirus, you can’t go and see the Queen.’
“I just said: ‘if you give her coronavirus and she dies what, what are you gonna, you can’t do that, you can’t risk that, that’s completely insane.’
“And he said, he basically just hadn’t thought it through, he said, ‘yeah, holy shit, I can’t go.’”
Downing Street denies that this incident took place.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment.
A No 10 spokesman told the BBC the Prime Minister had always “taken the necessary action to protect lives and livelihoods, guided by the best scientific advice”.