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Covid: Matt Hancock to face questions after Dominic Cummings attack

Covid: Matt Hancock to face questions after Dominic Cummings attack”

United Kingdom leader Boris Johnson wanted to get injected with COVID-19 on live TV to prove there was "nothing to be frightened of" - just weeks before it nearly killed him, his former chief adviser told Parliament Wednesday.

"He described it as the new swine flu", Cummings claimed, blasting his former boss for taking a two-week vacation rather than "operating on a war footing" that month.

"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", Mr Cummings told a parliamentary committee.

Johnson "came close" to firing the health minister in April 2020, "but just fundamentally wouldn't do it", Cummings said, highlighting thousands of deaths in elderly care homes after infected patients were discharged from hospitals. He later said plans had been prepared to announce his death.

In a blistering attack on the British state, Dominic Cummings told lawmakers that the government was completely unprepared for the worst public health crisis in decades and that ministers, including the prime minister, were on holiday in February 2020, some skiing.

In response, Johnson told parliament he took "full responsibility" but insisted decision-making during the pandemic had been "appallingly difficult".

He added that "none of the decisions had been easy" but that his government had followed "the best scientific advice that we can". A self-styled political disruptor who wanted to shake up government, he often expressed contempt for the civil service, politicians and the media. Cummings said there was had been no plan for the epidemic, and certainly no plan for a lockdown.

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Cummings, the strategist behind the 2016 Brexit campaign and Johnson's landslide election win in 2019, left Downing Street late past year, carrying his personal belongings in a box, after falling out with the prime minister. Now a fierce critic of his previous employer, he accuses the government of sticking with a policy of "herd immunity" - allowing the virus to spread through the population while protecting the most vulnerable - until it was too late to prevent draconian lockdowns and many deaths. But his frequent clashes with colleagues are said to have led to persistent tensions and he left government a year later.

Hancock "should've been fired for at least 15, 20 things, including lying to everybody on multiple occasions in meeting after meeting in the cabinet room and publicly", the former adviser said.

Cummings alleged that Johnson refused to heed the advice of scientific advisers to impose a second stay-at-home order in September and also expressed regret about ordering the first lockdown. "The fundamental reason was that I was really frightened of acting", Cummings said.

A second national lockdown was announced October 31, and a third in January.

"He was there at the time - what his motives would be I will leave to others", Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.

"When the public needed us most the government failed", he said, apologising "to all the families of those who died unnecessarily".

Johnson has admitted that mistakes were made and that lessons need to be learned, but his ministers say they were having to working fast, under pressure, in the face of a huge crisis.



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