Dominic Cummings labels Boris Johnson's early Covid plan a 'disaster'

UK prime minister’s former top adviser accuses government of making ‘awful decisions’

Britain’s early plan to combat Covid-19 was branded a disaster in an incendiary series of posts on Twitter by Boris Johnson’s former top adviser Dominic Cummings.

Mr Cummings claimed “awful decisions” led to the government imposing lockdowns that could have been avoided, and repeated allegations that reaching herd immunity was the government’s official original strategy, despite its vehement claims to the contrary.

Censure was also reserved for the UK media, which Mr Cummings accused of a dereliction of duty by failing to challenge these claims.

Mr Cummings left Mr Johnson’s team late last year and his fusillade of biting tweets on Saturday came ahead of an appearance before a parliamentary joint inquiry on coronavirus this week.

Before his sudden departure, Mr Cummings was the prime minister’s most influential adviser on Brexit and played an important role in the successful 2019 election campaign. He was also the architect of Britain’s campaign to leave the European Union.

Mr Johnson is currently enjoying a bounce in popularity thanks to the UK’s widely heralded vaccination programme but he has presided over three lockdowns and one of the world’s highest Covid death tolls.

The UK also suffered one of the biggest slumps of any major economy.

This “worst of both worlds” scenario was highlighted by Mr Cummings, who accused the government of recidivistic dithering, which he said led to two further avoidable lockdowns.

“If we’d had the right preparations + competent people in charge, we wd [sic] probably have avoided lockdown1, *definitely* no need for lockdowns 2&3”, Mr Cummings wrote on Twitter.

“Given the plan was AWOL/disaster + awful decisions delayed everything, lockdown1 became necessary.”

Incompetence was not the only charge Mr Cummings laid at Downing Street’s door. He also accused Number 10 of lying over herd immunity.

He said achieving herd immunity by September 2021 was the official plan "in all docs/graphs/meetings until it was ditched”.

“In week of 9/3, No10 was made aware by various people that the official plan wd [sic] lead to catastrophe. It was then replaced by Plan B,” he said on Twitter.

His account differs to that of the government, which said “herd immunity has never been a policy aim or part of our coronavirus strategy”.

“Our response has at all times been focused on saving lives and ensuring the NHS [National Health Service] was not overwhelmed. We continue to be guided by the latest scientific advice.”

When asked about Mr Cummings’ claim, Home Secretary Priti Patel, in an interview on the BBC on Sunday, said herd immunity was “not at all” the plan.

Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK’s Health Security Agency, also said it was not the strategy.

Updated: May 24, 2021 10:23 AM

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