Dominic Cummings was questioned about the language being used in autumn last year as the UK moved towards a second lockdown. Mr Cummings admitted the Prime Minister said he would rather see “bodies pile high” than put the country into a third lockdown as the UK shut down for the second time. SNP MP Carol Monaghan asked if Mr Cummings heard the remarks, to which he answered: “I heard that in the PM’s study.” Wednesday has been, arguably, the most damaging day of Mr Johnson’s tenure as Prime Minister as he faced a barrage of damning accusations alongside his ministers and other officials within his government. Here are seven of Mr Cummings’ best quotes.
Speaking about Matt Hancock, Mr Cummings said the health secretary’s performance fell “far, far disastrously below the standards which the country has a right to expect”.
Mr Cummings said: “I said repeatedly from February and March ‘If we don’t fire Mr Hancock and we don’t get the testing in someone else’s hands, we are going to kill people and it will be a catastrophe.
“The British system is not set up to deal with a Secretary of State who repeatedly lies in meetings.”
He added: “I think the Secretary of State for Health should have 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.
“Hancock wanted to be able to go on TV and say ‘look at means my 100k target’. I was criminal behaviour which caused serious harm.
“[The Prime Minister] came close to removing him in April, but fundamentally wouldn’t do it.”
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Mr Cummings said: “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.
“There are so many thousands of wonderful people in this country who could provide better leadership than either of those two.
“If you took anybody at random from the top one percent of people in this country who are competent, then they would have behaved differently to the Prime Minister.”
On the Prime Minister’s underestimation of the pandemic, he said: “In February, the Prime Minister regarded this as just a scare story, he described it as the new swine flu.
“He said ‘I’m going to get Chris Whitty to inject me with it live on television, to show the public there’s nothing to be frightened of.”
Mr Cummings told the committee: “Part of the building was arguing about whether we were going to bomb Iraq, part was arguing about whether we were going to quarantine or not, and the Prime Minister’s girlfriend was going crackers about something completely trivial.
“That morning, The Times had run a story about the PM, his girlfriend and their dog, and she was angry and we had to deal with that.
“[The Prime Minister’s] girlfriend is desperate to get rid of me and all my team.
“My resignation was definitely connected to the fact that the Prime Minister’s girlfriend was trying to change a whole bunch of different appointments in Number 10 and appoint her friends to particular jobs.
“In particular, she was trying to overturn the outcome of an official process about hiring a particular job in a way which was not only completely unethical but which was also clearly illegal.”
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Speaking about care homes during the Covid crisis, Mr Cummings said: “Many people who should have been tested were not tested, and they went back to care homes and then infected people, and then it spread like wildfire inside the care homes.
“The Government rhetoric was ‘we put a shield around people in care homes’. Blah blah blah, it was complete nonsense.
“That was complete nonsense. Quite the opposite of putting a shield around them, we sent people with Covid back to care homes.”
The UK’s approach to borders
Mr Cummings said: “Fundamentally, there was no proper border policy because the Prime Minister never wanted a proper border policy.
“Repeatedly in meeting after meeting, I and others said all we have to do is download the Singapore or Taiwan documents in English and impose them here.
“At that point [after April] he was back to, ‘lockdown was all a terrible mistake, I should’ve been the mayor of Jaws, we should never have done lockdown one, the travel industry will all be destroyed if we bring in a serious border policy.”
Mr Cummings was damning when it comes to testing, saying Mr Hancock acted in an “incredibly stupid” way.
He added: “We had half the Government with me in Number 10 calling around frantically saying do not do what Hancock says, build the thing properly for the medium term.
“And we had Hancock calling them all saying down tools on this, do this, hold tests back so I can hit my target.
“In my opinion he [Hancock] should’ve been fired for that thing along, and that itself meant the whole of April was hugely disrupted by different parts of Whitehall fundamentally trying to operate in different ways completely because Hancock wanted to be able to go on TV and say ‘look at me and my 100k target’.”
Dominic Cummings’ trip to Barnard Castle
On his own breaking of lockdown rules, Mr Cummings said: “The whole thing was a complete disaster and the truth is – and then it undermined public confidence in the whole thing – the truth is, if I just went the Prime Minister said on a Monday ‘we can’t hold this line, we’re going to have to explain things’, if I just basically sent my family back out of London and said and said here’s the truth to the public, I think people would have understood the situation.
“It was a terrible misjudgment not to do that. So I take… the Prime Minister got that wrong, I got that wrong.
“That whole episode was definitely a major disaster for the Government and for the Covid policy.”