- Aides to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson are anxious about former advisor Dominic Cummings parliamentary testimony.
- Johnson skipped key coronavirus meetings to write a book to fund his divorce, they fear Cummings will say, reported The Times.
- Cummings criticised the govt’s early response to the coronavirus in a series of tweets.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Aides to Boris Johnson fear that former advisor Dominic Cummings could claim that the UK prime minister skipped crucial coronavirus meetings to write a book on Shakespeare to fund his divorce, The Sunday Times reported.
Cabinet Office officials reportedly fear that Cummings will use his appearance before a committee of MPs investigating the government’s early response to the pandemic to make damaging revelations about his former boss.
Johnson skipped five meetings of the COBRA emergency committee in the initial weeks of the pandemic in 2020.
The officials reportedly believe that Cummings will claim that Johnson needed the money from the book to fund his divorce from his second wife, Maria Wheeler.
The five meetings Johnson skipped were in late January and early February 2020, as the virus began to spread in the UK. It is customary for the prime minister to chair COBRA meetings during national crises.
At a campaign event in July 2019, Johnson had expressed regret that being a politician meant he didn’t have the time to complete a book on Shakespeare he’d planned to write.
“Being a full-time politician means that I won’t be able to rapidly complete a book on Shakespeare that I have in preparation. I honestly say that will grieve me,” he remarked, reported PoliticsHome.
Cummings left Downing Street last year after an internal power struggle and has since become a feared government critic, making damaging claims about its response to the coronavirus.
In a series of tweets Saturday, Cummings said that, contrary to the denials of several government ministers, including Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the government had been pursuing a “herd immunity” strategy until about a week before the first national lockdown in the UK.
“In the week of March 9, No10 was made aware by various people that the official plan would lead to catastrophe. It was then replaced by Plan B. But how ‘herd immunity by September’ could have been the plan until that week is a fundamental issue in the whole disaster,” he tweeted.
It was abandoned only when ministers were warned that it’d lead to “hundreds of thousands choking to death” on hospital wards,” he wrote.
Under the controversial strategy, the disease would have been allowed to spread freely among parts of the population, with the most vulnerable shielded, hoping that most of the population would develop some immunity to it.