Tens of thousands of people died unnecessarily because of the government’s failings over coronavirus and Boris Johnson was “unfit for the job” of prime minister, Dominic Cummings has said.
The PM’s former top adviser claimed Mr Johnson thought COVID was a “scare story” like swine flu in the early days of the pandemic – and did not hold back in attacking Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
In an explosive Commons hearing on coronavirus lasting more than seven hours, Mr Cummings has told MPs that the government failed the public in the early months of 2020.
Explaining why Mr Johnson did not attend the COBRA meetings at the start of last year, he said: “The prime minister described it as the new swine flu, I certainly told him it wasn’t.
“The view from No 10 was if the PM chairs COBRA and says it’s just swine flu that would not help.”
He added that the PM wanted to be injected with the coronavirus live on TV by chief medical officer Chris Whitty to show it was not harmful.
Mr Cummings spoke of how many junior people in government “did great things” but were let down by those in senior positions, adding: “The problem in this crisis was lions led by donkeys over and over again.”
Matt Hancock took much of Mr Cummings’ flak, claiming that he, the cabinet secretary and other senior officials called for the PM to fire the health secretary for “at least 15-20 things, including lying to everybody on multiple occasions in many meetings”.
Mr Cummings said the PM “was close” to firing Mr Hancock in April 2020 “but wouldn’t do it”.
He added that Mr Hancock took too long to get test and trace set up and told the PM: “If we don’t fire the secretary of state and we don’t get testing into someone’s hands, we are going to kill lots of people.”
Mr Hancock has rejected Mr Cummings’ claims with a spokesman for the health secretary saying he “has worked incredibly hard in unprecedented circumstances to protect the NHS and save lives”.