Published: Thu, May 27, 2021
Medical | By

UK PM’s former adviser confirms Johnson said ‘let the bodies pile high’

UK PM’s former adviser confirms Johnson said ‘let the bodies pile high’

Weeks later, Johnson announced on March 27 that he had tested positive for COVID-19 - leading to a spell in intensive care during which he nearly died, he later admitted.

While giving explosive evidence to a Commons Committee this afternoon, the Prime Minister's former adviser revealed that Mr Johnson initially dismissed the outbreak of the virus as just a "scare story", comparing it to swine flu, while refusing to listen to those warning him about the impending doom.

Mr Cummings also attacked Boris Johnson, describing his former boss as "unfit for the job" and claiming he had ignored scientific advice and wrongly delayed lockdowns.

In an excoriating account of the crisis's early days, Cummings - a divisive figure who carved out a uniquely powerful role in Johnson's government before stepping down in December - said senior ministers and officials "completely failed" to adequately plan.

"Tens of thousands of people died who didn't need to die".

But he blasted senior United Kingdom officials and politicians for initially missing the seriousness of the situation, and once they did grasp it, of inept decision-making, comparing Mr Johnson's approach to an out-of-control shopping trolley. Reflecting on the failure to close the borders in March 2020, Mr Cummings told MPs that the policy was "madness" because travellers were still arriving from infected areas.

He accused officials of "catastrophic" group-think, pursuing a haphazard strategy of so-called herd immunity before belatedly abandoning it when the likely death toll became clear.

Asked if Britain's top civil servant had disclosed he had lost faith in Hancock's honesty, Johnson said: "The answer to that is no.and I'm afraid I haven't had the benefit of seeing the evidence that he's (Cummings) bringing to the house". Cummings said there was had been no plan for the epidemic, and certainly no plan for a lockdown.


Mr Johnson wanted to be the Mayor from Jaws and feared that tough border controls to prevent those with Covid coming into Britain would also be ruinous to tourism, Mr Cummings said.

"And I'd like to say to all the families of those who died, unnecessarily, how sorry I am for the mistakes that were made and for my own mistakes", he said.

Cummings' seven hours of testimony to Parliament's science and health committees, who are investigating Britain's pandemic response, gave a dramatic taste of what might come out.

Mr Cummings said there were around 20 reasons why Mr Hancock should have been thrown out of the Cabinet - including, he claimed, lying both in meetings and publicly.

"I think we are absolutely fucked", Cummings said, quoting McNamara.

Meanwhile, Johnson defended the government's response Wednesday, saying "to deal with a pandemic on this scale has been appallingly hard".

Despite Mr Johnson riding high after successful local election results in England this month, Mr Cummings' testimony could refocus attention on his government's patchy performance responding to the pandemic.

He says at the time the government "did everything that they could, in the national interest as they saw it, with the imperfect information that was available at the time".

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