Ministers braced for Dominic Cummings testimony on Covid crisis

Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s former top adviser, is preparing to expose many of the mistakes he claims the government made as the Covid pandemic hit Britain last year.

After years spent in the heart of Westminster but operating mainly behind the scenes, Cummings will deliver on-camera testimony as he is quizzed by two committees of senior MPs conducting an inquiry into lessons to be learned from the crisis.

Some Tory figures fear bombshell evidence about Johnson’s actions, forecasting “Domageddon”, a “nuclear Dom” or a “sword of Domocles” moment. Others are unfazed, believing Cummings to be distrusted by the public for his lockdown-breaking trips, and clearly out for revenge against his former boss.

This month Johnson finally announced the independent public inquiry into ministers’ handling of the pandemic, to begin in spring 2022. Cummings has pushed for parliament to set up its own investigation to learn lessons more quickly.

On the eve of the evidence session, Cummings continued to add to a 63-tweet long thread on Twitter, claiming one of the “worst failings” last year was the “almost total absence of a serious plan for shielding/social care” and adding: “There was widespread delusion we HAD a great plan. It turned out to barely exist.”

He also hinted he plans to shine a light on an alleged but firmly denied government strategy of “herd immunity”, meaning enough people gaining resistance to a virus that it no longer spreads unchecked.

Last month Cummings, who left Downing Street in November after a power battle, made clear his disdain for Johnson, writing that the prime minister had fallen “so far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves” and denying he was the source of a series of leaks.

He has also promised to provide a “crucial” document on Covid decision-making to the health and science committees chaired by two Tory MPs, Jeremy Hunt and Greg Clark.

Former Brexit secretary David Davis said Cummings may have correctly identified some of the government’s failings, but there was little evidence he had tried to correct them when inside government. “This is a man whose primary purpose in life is to rewrite history to make him look good; but that doesn’t mean that everything he says is completely wrong,” he said.

Some of Johnson’s allies will most likely be keen to discredit Cummings but the prime minister and other members of the cabinet publicly backed him after his lockdown trips, exposed by the Guardian and Daily Mirror, last year.


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