Damning words: what Dominic Cummings told Covid inquiry

Boris Johnson was ‘like a shopping trolley, just smashing around from one side to the other’

British prime minister Boris Johnson. ‘I regarded him as unfit for the job and I was trying to create a structure around him to try and stop what I thought were extremely bad decisions,’ his former adviser Dominic Cummings told an inquiry into the British government’s response to the coronavirus crisis. Photograph: Chris J Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

British prime minister Boris Johnson. ‘I regarded him as unfit for the job and I was trying to create a structure around him to try and stop what I thought were extremely bad decisions,’ his former adviser Dominic Cummings told an inquiry into the British government’s response to the coronavirus crisis. Photograph: Chris J Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

 

Boris Johnson’s former adviser Dominic Cummings gave evidence on Wednesday to a Westminster inquiry into the British government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some of the things he said.

On Boris Johnson:

“It doesn’t matter if you have great people doing communications if you have the prime minister changing his mind 10 times a day and then calls up the media and contradicts his own policy day after day after day. You are going to have a communications disaster zone.” 

“Everybody was screaming, on quarantine – have a policy, clearly, and stick to it… but nobody could find a problem around the way of the prime minister like a shopping trolley, just smashing around from one side to the other’’. 

“The heart of the problem was fundamentally I regarded him as unfit for the job and I was trying to create a structure around him to try and stop what I thought were extremely bad decisions and push other things through against his wishes. He had the view that he was prime minister and I should just be doing what he wanted me to”.

On Matt Hancock:

“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.”

The atmosphere in Downing Street on March 12th, 2020:

“Part of the building was saying ‘are we going to bomb Iraq’, part of the building was arguing about whether or not we are going to do quarantine, the prime minister has his girlfriend going crackers about something completely trivial… Thank God the attorney general persuaded the prime minister not to go ahead with the bombing campaign.”

A conversation with a senior civil servant in March 2020:

“Helen McNamara said ‘I think we are absolutely f****d’ I think this country’s in a disaster and we are going to kill thousands of people. I said ‘I think you’re right, it is a disaster, we are going to sketch out plan B’.”

His trip to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight:

 “I can completely understand why people think the whole thing was weird and obviously I wish I’d never heard of Barnard Castle and wish I’d never gone and wish the whole nightmare had never happened.”