The Prime Minister’s former chief advisor has been vocal in his condemnation of Boris Johnson, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, and others since leaving Government after a behind-the-scenes power struggle in November.
You can follow all the updates here as Cummings gives evidence to a joint inquiry of the Commons Health and Social Care and Science and Technology Committees.
Dominic Cummings’ select committee RECAP: Boris Johnson’s former adviser appears before MPs
Last updated: Wednesday, 26 May, 2021, 10:27
- Dominic Cummings claims Boris Johnson suggested getting injected with coronavirus ‘live on TV’
- Cummings says Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, should have been fired for “lying”.
- Cummings claims PM described Covid as “new swine flu”
- “We fell disastrously short of standards,” says Cummings
Dominic Cummings expected to land more blows on Government in session with MPs
Downing Street is braced for more explosive revelations from the Prime Minister’s former chief advisor Dominic Cummings as he makes a much-anticipated appearance before MPs on Wednesday.
Mr Cummings has been vocal in his condemnation of Boris Johnson, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, and others since leaving Government after a behind-the-scenes power struggle in November.
Ahead of giving evidence to the Commons Health and Social Care and Science and Technology Committees, Mr Cummings set out his criticisms of the Government’s approach to the pandemic in a thread of messages on Twitter, claiming the original response to the coronavirus outbreak was to pursue a strategy of “herd immunity”.
In a series of explosive tweets, he said the policy, to build up resistance in the population by allowing some spread of the disease, was only dropped in March last year after a warning it would lead to a “catastrophe”.
Multiple Cabinet ministers have denied this was the case, and the Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: “Herd immunity from infection has never been government policy.”
Dominic Cummings told MPs that ministers, officials and advisers “fell disastrously short of the standards the public has a right to expect” in a crisis and he apologised for the mistakes during the pandemic.
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Dominic Cummings is expected to launch a savage onslaught against the government over its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic when he makes a much-anticipated appearance before MPs on Wednesday (May 26).
‘When the public needed us most the Government failed’ - Cummings
Dominic Cummings has begun his evidence to MPs by apologising for the Government’s failures during the coronavirus pandemic.
Boris Johnson’s former aide said: “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.”
‘Many institutions’ failed early on in pandemic - Cummings
Dominic Cummings has said “many institutions” failed early on in the coronavirus crisis.
The former chief aide to the Prime Minister told the Commons committee: “When it started, in January, I did think in part of my mind, ‘Oh my goodness, is this it? Is this what people have been warning about all this time?’
“However, at the time the PHE (Public Health England) here and the WHO (World Health Organisation) and CDC, generally speaking, organisations across the western world were not ringing great alarm bells about it then.
“I think it is in retrospect completely obvious that many, many institutions failed on this early question.”
Dominic Cummings told MPs the Government “didn’t act like it (Covid) was the most important thing in February, never mind in January”, adding the Government was not on a “war footing” and that “lots of key people were literally skiing” in February.
Dominic Cummings said that assurances given in January last year that pandemic preparations were brilliant “were basically completely hollow”.
The former chief aide to the Prime Minister told the Commons committee he received a response from Health Secretary Matt Hancock assuring: “We’ve got full plans up to and including pandemic levels regularly prepared and refreshed, CMOs and epidemiologists, we’re stress testing now, it’s our top tier risk register, we have an SR bid before this.”
Mr Cummings told the committee: “I would like to stress and apologise for the fact that it is true that I did this but I did not follow up on this and push it the way I should’ve done.
“We were told in No 10 at the time that this is literally top of the risk register, this has been planned and there’s been exercises on this over and over again, everyone knows what to do.
“And it’s sort of tragic in a way, that someone who wrote so often about running red teams and not trusting things and not digging into things, whilst I was running red teams about lots of other things in government at this time, I didn’t do it on this.
“If I had said at the end of January, we’re going to take a Saturday and I want all of these documents put on the table and I want it all gone through and I want outside experts to look at it all, then we’d have figured out much, much earlier that all the claims about brilliant preparations and how everything was in order were basically completely hollow, but we didn’t figure this out until the back end of February.”
Mr Cummings said he attended some meetings of Sage, of which the first meeting regarding Covid was on January 21.
He said he “couldn’t understand” some of the modelling and what was being said and sent other experts to the meeting instead.
Mr Cummings said he listened to a lot of Sage conversations in February and March “but a lot of it was over my head”.
The Prime Minister’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings has claimed that Boris Johnson described it as the “new swine flu” in February 2020.
Giving evidence to the Commons Health and Social Care and Science and Technology Committees, Mr Cummings said: “In February the Prime Minister regarded this as just a scare story, he described it as the new swine flu.”
When asked if he had told the Prime Minister it was not, Mr Cummings added: “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 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 tells MPs there was not “any sense of urgency” about the pandemic until the last week of February
Dominic Cummings committee evidence LIVE: Watch Boris Johnson's former chief adviser give evidence to select committee
Watch Dominic Cummings explosive select committee evidence on time as Boris Johnson's chief adviser live
Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings is appearing at a Westminster select committee hearing in front of MPs.
Dominic Cummings said that information from Cobra meetings was often leaked to the media.
He told the Commons Health and Social Care and Science and Technology Committees: “Also bear in mind one of the huge problems we had throughout was things leaking and creating chaos in the media.”
When asked if these were leaks from Cobra, he said: “Leaking from Cobra, leaking from practically everything.
“So when I wanted to have sensitive conversations that I didn’t want to see appear in the media I did not have those conversations in Cobra.”
Dominic Cummings claims Boris Johnson suggested getting injected with coronavirus 'live on TV'
Dominic Cummings has claimed Boris Johnson suggested getting injected with coronavirus “live on TV” to show it was nothing to be worried about.