The Prime Minister’s former chief adviser said Health Secretary Matt Hancock should have been fired over coronavirus failings and “criminal, disgraceful behaviour” on the testing target.
Dominic Cummings also said Whitehall’s top official recommended to the Prime Minister that Mr Hancock should be sacked.
Downing Street did not deny that the Prime Minister considered sacking Mr Hancock in April last year but insisted Boris Johnson has confidence in the Health Secretary now.
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.
He said Mr Hancock performed “disastrously” below the standards expected and the cabinet secretary – the country’s top civil servant – recommended the Health Secretary should be sacked.
“I think the Secretary of State for Health 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,” Mr Cummings said.
PM believed coronavirus was like ‘swine flu’
He also told MPs that Mr Johnson believed coronavirus was like “swine flu” and people died unnecessarily because of Government failings during the pandemic.
The Prime Minister’s former aide apologised to the public, saying that ministers, officials and advisers had fallen “disastrously short” of the standards they should expect in a crisis.
Mr Cummings said the Prime Minister was more concerned about the impact on the economy than the need to curb the spread of coronavirus in the weeks leading up to the first lockdown.
The former adviser, who left Downing Street last year after a behind-the-scenes power struggle, told the MPs: “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.
“When the public needed us most, the Government failed"
“I would 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 at that.”
What else Dominic Cummings said
In a series of explosive claims, Mr Cummings said:
– The Government was not operating on a “war footing” in February 2020 as the global crisis mounted, with the Prime Minister on holiday and “lots of key people were literally skiing”.
– Mr Johnson thought Covid-19 was just a “scare story” and the “new swine flu” and it was suggested chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty should inject him with the virus on live TV
– Herd immunity from people catching the disease was thought to be inevitable because there was no plan to try to suppress the spread of the virus.
– Cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill told the Prime Minister to go on TV and explain the herd immunity plan by saying “it’s like the old chicken pox parties, we need people to get this disease because that’s how we get herd immunity by September”.