Ex-adviser exposes Boris’s short Cummings in handling pandemic
Dominic Cummings, former adviser to PM Boris Johnson, tells a chilling story of British failure over coronavirus policy
What impact will Dominic Cummings’s extraordinary seven-plus hours of testimony on Wednesday have on Boris Johnson’s government and Britain’s examination of its pandemic performance? Not much, is the cynical view. After all, Johnson’s mistakes in the first waves of Covid-19 have been well covered. And Cummings, the prime minister’s former top adviser who was dismissed in November, is hardly a neutral observer.
And yet, like him or loathe him, what made Cummings’s parliamentary account so explosive wasn’t that it revealed much that people didn’t know already. Rather, it provided chilling confirmation of what hasn’t been properly acknowledged by those in power: that the death toll of the past year wasn’t just a result of the new coronavirus, but also of the terrible shortcomings in planning, decision making and leadership.
The UK’s official pandemic inquiry — which Johnson has kicked down the road to 2022 — will have many uncomfortable questions to ask. Why was Britain’s death toll so high? Why did so many people die in care homes? Why did it take so long to put lockdown measures in place? And why was more than £20bn (R387bn) spent on a test-and-trace system that largely didn’t work? According to Cummings, the distressing reason for all of these failures is a combination of institutional chaos and personal weakness at the top of Johnson’s administration...