In describing the several days of depositions, the British media focus, among other things, on the fact that Cummings spoke very vulgarly about some ministers and officials in the communication from 2020. “I would say that overall it was a massive failure, with exceptions where some individuals and some teams did excellent work in an otherwise dysfunctional system,” Cummings evaluated the state administration’s progress after the first blow of the covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
The investigative committee, led by former judge Heather Hallett, also heard the content of messages on various communication platforms in which Cummings made comments about specific cabinet members. For example, he used profanity to call for MacNamara to be fired, and although he apologized for his vocabulary, he insisted that it was not misogyny on his part, as he was even harsher in his judgments of men. “And a thousand times worse than my dictionary was the mad situation in Downing Street,” he added.
Committee members also heard Cummings’ report from August 2020, in which he called the then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock highly profanity, writing that he was a “convicted liar” who was completely incompetent and that keeping him in office was a “huge mistake”.
It also quoted from the diary of then-cabinet health adviser Patrick Vallance, from which it emerged that Johnson believed that the best course of action in a pandemic is to let the coronavirus infect the older population and give way to “natural selection”. Vallance also wrote that Johnson was “obsessed” with the idea that the elderly should “accept their fate and let the young live”.
His aides were reportedly frustrated that the prime minister often changed his mind and lacked focus and discipline, Cummings said.
Cummings has worked with Johnson since he campaigned to support Britain leaving the EU ahead of the 2016 referendum. He gained a strong position after Johnson became Prime Minister in 2019. Because of his influence, he was nicknamed “Boris’s Brain”. Cummings quit as an adviser in the fall of 2020, and then began sharply criticizing his former boss in the media not only for his actions during the pandemic, but also for mistakes related to Brexit.
The committee of inquiry examining the response to the covid pandemic will work until 2026, with the aim of improving the procedure in case of other crises in the future. MacNamara also testified before him today, according to which “you can hardly choose a single day” when Johnson’s office would follow the covid rules, which, according to her, were violated by hundreds of people. According to her, the prime minister was undecided on the matter of covid and kept changing his mind. MacNamara added that the role of women was significantly suppressed in Johnson’s team.