Politics

6 Things To Know About Dominic Cummings’ Coronavirus Hearing

From depressing behind-the-scenes info to the citing of a Spider-Man meme, this was the wildest seven hours in recent political history.

Dominic Cummings, former Chief Adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, giving evidence to a joint inquiry of the Commons Health and Social Care and Science and Technology Committees on the subject of Coronavirus: lessons learnt. Picture date: Wednesday May 26, 2021. (Photo by House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images)
House of Commons - PA Images/PA Images/Getty Images

On Wednesday, May 26, Boris Johnson’s former chief advisor Dominic Cummings gave evidence to a joint inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and the lessons that can be learned. Led by the Health and Science Select Committees, Cummings provided seven hours worth of testimony against former colleagues and the prime minister, even going so far as to say that “tens of thousands of people died who didn’t need to die” due to the government’s actions over the past year.

Prior to appearing at the inquiry, Cummings was already sharing a variety of claims via his Twitter account. In one post, he tweeted a photo of a whiteboard that showed the government’s initial plans ahead of the first wave of coronavirus. This included a “plan A” and “plan B”, and also included a question of “who do we not save?” in the event that the NHS was overwhelmed which may have also resulted in the death of 4,000 people per day from the virus.

While the whiteboard wasn’t a major talking point within the inquiry, it set the tone for what would be one of the biggest moments in UK political history of the past decade. Below are just six of the major moments during Cummings’ evidence giving, which paint an alarming picture of what may have happened during the days leading up to the first wave.

Thousands Of Preventable Deaths

As the virus initially spread across the globe, Cummings said the government didn’t take it seriously or do enough to protect the public. “When the public needed us most, the government failed,” he said. “Tens of thousands of people died who didn’t need to die.”

Cummings later added, “The truth is that senior ministers, senior officials, senior advisers like me, fell disastrously short of the standards that the public has a right to expect of its government in a crisis like this.”

Boris Johnson “Unfit For The Job”

Cummings didn’t have much to say about the prime minister that wasn’t negative, deeming him “unfit for the job”. He claimed Johnson believed COVID-19 was a “scare story” when it first started circulating and repeatedly compared himself to the mayor in Jaws who kept the beaches open despite an uptake in shark attacks.

Cummings also corroborated the rumour that Johnson said he would rather “let the bodies pile high” than go into a second lockdown.

Matt Hancock “Should Have Been Fired”

It seems that Cummings doesn’t have the best relationship with Matt Hancock, going so far as to say that the health secretary “should have been fired” for a multitude of things, including “lying to everybody on multiple occasions in meeting after meeting in the cabinet room and publicly.”

Cummings blames Hancock for the delay in implementing the test and trace system, which by that point was “too distracted by the Hancock pledge” to reach 100,000 tests a day.

The former advisor claimed that Johnson had considered removing Hancock from his position in April 2020, “but just fundamentally wouldn’t do it.”

The Independence Day Comparison

At one point, Hancock likened the situation at Downing Street to a scene in Independence Day. Referring to the delay in implementing a lockdown, Cummings compared colleague and data expert Ben Warner to Jeff Goldblum when his character says “the aliens are here and your whole plan is broken, you need a new plan.”

He then described the next morning as something out of an “out of control movie,” and that in retrospect they should have planned the first lockdown earlier.

Citing The Spider-Man Meme

Much like the Independence Day comparison, another analogy that came out of left field was Cummings comparing moments of confusion in Downing Street to the Spider-Man meme. If you’re not already versed on this specific meme, it’s an image from the ’60s cartoon of two people in Spider-Man costumes pointing at each other.

“It’s like that but with everybody,” Cummings explained. “You’ve got Hancock pointing at the Permanent Secretary, you have the Permanent Secretary pointing at Hancock, and they’re both pointing at the Cabinet Office, and the Cabinet Office is pointing back at them.”

Basically, it’s a case of the blame game in terms of who was responsible for certain issues during the pandemic.

His Trip Trip To Durham

It was inevitable that the Durham trip would come into question during the inquiry, and Cummings admitted that he hadn’t “told the full story” about his journey up north. However, he did reiterate that the drive to Barnard Castle was to test his eyesight.

The trip to Durham was allegedly due to a “security threat”, in which death threats had been made to his family outside their home in London. “If I just basically sent my family back out of London and said here’s the truth to the public, I think people would have understood the situation,” Cummings explained. “It was a terrible misjudgment not to do that. So I take ... the prime minister got that wrong, I got that wrong.”