Highlights from ex-adviser’s attack on Government (Report)

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Highlights from ex-adviser's attack on Government (Report)
Highlights from ex-adviser's attack on Government (Report)

Dominic Cummings’ war with Boris Johnson continued as he spoke to MPs about the Government’s coronavirus response.

In a dramatic series of statements, the PM’s former top adviser has made a number of serious claims and painted a picture of a chaotic approach to the pandemic.

Here are some of his key quotes.

His 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.”

Officials feared the PM would get Covid injected live on TV

“I just got on with things because my view was the Prime Minister already is about a thousand times too obsessed with the media.”

“It’s just completely crackers that someone like me should have been in there, just the same as it’s crackers that Boris Johnson was in there, and that the choice at the last election was Jeremy Corbyn.”

“In February the Prime Minister regarded this as just a scare story, he described it as the new swine flu.”

“I have been critical of the Prime Minister. But… if you dropped, you know, Bill Gates or someone like that into that job on March 1, the most competent people in the world you could possibly find, any of them would have had a complete nightmare.”
The Barnard Castle saga

“In autumn 2019, I had to move out of my house because of security threats for about six weeks. On 28 February, when I was dealing with the Covid problem, on the Friday night I was down in Westminster and my wife called saying ‘there’s a gang of people outside saying they’re going to break into the house and kill everybody inside’. She was alone in the house at the time with our then-three-year-old.”

“When the story came out… much of the story was completely wrong.

“The prime minister and I agreed that because of the security things, we would basically just stonewall the story and not say anything about it.

“I was completely mindful of the problem that when you talk about these things, you cause more trouble.”

On his role in the government’s failure

“I wish I had never heard of Barnard Castle. I wish I had never gone. I wish the whole nightmare had never happened.”

“It’s true that I hit the panic button and said we’ve got to ditch the official plan, it’s true that I helped to try to create what an official plan was. I think it’s a disaster that I acted too late. The fundamental reason was that I was really frightened of acting.”

“There’s no doubt that he (Boris Johnson) was extremely badly let down by the whole system. And it was a system failure, of which I include myself in that as well, I also failed.”

“I think in retrospect I was probably right to resign in March… definitely wrong not to resign in September. Whether or not I should have gone in the summer, I don’t know…”
On Health Secretary Matt Hancock:

“There’s no doubt at all that many senior people performed far, far disastrously below the standards which the country has a right to expect. I think the Secretary of State for Health is certainly one of those people.”

“I think the Secretary of State for Health should’ve been fired for at least 15, 20 things, including lying to everybody on multiple occasions in meeting after meeting in the Cabinet room and publicly.”

On the Prime Minister

“I just got on with things because my view was the Prime Minister already is about a thousand times too obsessed with the media.”

“It’s just completely crackers that someone like me should have been in there, just the same as it’s crackers that Boris Johnson was in there, and that the choice at the last election was Jeremy Corbyn.”

“I have been critical of the Prime Minister. But… if you dropped, you know, Bill Gates or someone like that into that job on March 1, the most competent people in the world you could possibly find, any of them would have had a complete nightmare.”
The Government’s Covid preparations in early 2020

“The Government itself and Number 10 was not operating on a war footing in February on this in any way, shape or form. Lots of key people were literally skiing in the middle of February.”

“This is 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’.”

“The problem in this crisis was very much lions led by donkeys over and over again.”

“There wasn’t any plan for shielding, there wasn’t even a helpline for shielding, there wasn’t any plan for financial incentives, there wasn’t any plan for almost anything in any kind of detail at all.”

His own performance

“It’s true that I hit the panic button and said we’ve got to ditch the official plan, it’s true that I helped to try to create what an official plan was. I think it’s a disaster that I acted too late. The fundamental reason was that I was really frightened of acting.”

“There’s no doubt that he (Boris Johnson) was extremely badly let down by the whole system. And it was a system failure, of which I include myself in that as well, I also failed.”

“I apologise for not acting earlier and if I had acted earlier then lots of people might still be alive.”
On communications decisions

The PM was told twice “do not pick a fight with Rashford… the Prime Minister decided to pick a fight then surrendered twice”.

“After that everyone says your communications is stupid – no. What’s stupid is picking a fight with Rashford over school meals and what should’ve happened is just getting the school meals policy right.

“So it’s easy to blame communications for bad policy and bad decision making.”

“It doesn’t matter if you’ve got great people doing communications, if the Prime Minister changes his mind 10 times a day, and then calls up the media and contradicts his own policy day after day after day, you’re going to have a communications disaster.”

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