London (AP) – London is preparing for a possible political earthquake. Today, the former top adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, is being questioned by two parliamentary committees about the government’s crisis policy at the start of the corona pandemic.
So far, all indications are that Cummings, once considered the most powerful man on Downing Street, wants to use the one-hour testimony in London as an opportunity for a general settlement with his former boss and his ministers.
In numerous Twitter posts, Cummings has been reporting on his actions during that time for over a week, accusing the government of negligence. Recently, he had repeatedly criticized the way Johnson’s cabinet had handled the pandemic. However, political observers in London point out that without Cummings, who was considered the “gray eminence” of Downing Street, hardly a decision of importance would have been made. This is also why it looks like a campaign of revenge: because Cummings had left his advisory post in a dispute last November.
Cummings is provided by the Health and Science Committees of the House of Commons. Ultimately, the survey is expected to focus on four core areas: government preparation and the first lockdown, the multi-billion dollar test and follow-up program criticized as ineffective, the vaccination campaign and the second lockdown.
There is also eagerly awaited whether Cummings will talk about the sewing box. There have been recent reports of scandalous Johnson statements. The prime minister is said to have said he would rather accept “the corpses pile up by the thousands” than force another lockdown. Johnson is also reported to have missed five National Security Council (Cobra) Corona meetings about the pandemic – reportedly because he was working on a biography about legendary poet William Shakespeare. It is also open whether – contrary to regulations – a major Conservative Party donor paid for the expensive renovation of Johnson’s official apartment.
As the Sky News broadcaster reported, the survey should last several hours – and likely overlap with the Prime Minister’s so-called Question Time. There, Johnson traditionally answers parliamentary questions on Wednesday. It can be assumed that opposition leader Keir Starmer and other Labor MPs will seize the opportunity to immediately confront Johnson with statements made by Cummings.
With more than 150,000 people who have died from or with Covid, the UK is one of the countries most affected by the pandemic in Europe. The government has been criticized for hesitating for too long, especially in imposing the first lockdown.
According to Cummings, this was also due to the strategy initially followed, similar to the one in Sweden, of not completely suppressing the spread of the virus, but hoping for a gradual onset of immunity in the population. He described claims by members of the government that this was not the case as “nonsense”. Labor Minister Thérèse Coffey only strongly contradicted him on Tuesday.
Otherwise, “Number 10” has recently been demonstratively silent about Cummings’ allegations. The tweets were “revisionist,” the “Times” said, but only as a quote from an unnamed government source. It said Cummings was hypocritical. Political observers also don’t rule out Johnson’s desire to use a maneuver to distract from the investigation. There has even been a remodel of the closet in the room.
Cummings was downright hated by large sections of the population. But when he drove hundreds of miles to his family in Durham, apparently breaking corona rules, Johnson and other members of the government backed the adviser. Cummings himself gave a bizarre press conference in the Downing Street rose garden and defended himself. Well, almost a year later in the day, he’s back in the spotlight.