Dominic Cummings is set to give around three hours of evidence to a joint session of the Commons Health and Science Committees from 9.30am today.
He will try to deflect from his own responsibility for the Covid crisis – including his lockdown-busting trip to Durham – by attacking the government’s response.
And he’s made a strong start, by hailing down a thread of more than 60 tweets blaming everyone but himself.
Critics say the PM’s former top advisor should be taken with more a bucket than a pinch of salt. He is trying to salvage his own reputation, as well as setting the narrative ahead of a public inquiry next year.
But that said, he was in the room when the crucial decisions were made. And that makes him a vital witness to history.
Here are seven bombshells he could drop during his evidence:
Second lockdown failure as ‘only 80-year-olds were dying’
The ex-aide has already sent a blizzard of tweets about the first lockdown.
But allies believe the second lockdown caused a much bigger rift with Boris Johnson.
He could go into detail about the PM’s failure to shut pubs – which he eventually did in November – amid claims he moaned “Covid is only killing 80-year-olds”.
Government sources told the Mirror that Mr Johnson added: “If I was 80 I wouldn’t care, I’d be more worried about the economy”.
No 10 aides were said to be worried that the PM’s hatred of lockdowns would lead to him being seen as a “Grandma killer” by the public.
How long did Boris Johnson know about fears of a huge death toll before he changed his mind? And did the PM say “let the bodies pile high in their thousands” rather than agree a third lockdown, as has been claimed – and denied by No10?
Mr Cummings has also claimed the PM tried to stop an inquiry into the leak of his lockdown plans because it implicated a friend of his fiancee, Carrie Symonds. He could give more detail on that too.
Herd immunity ‘lies’
Mr Cummings has said No10 “decided to lie” and Matt Hancock spouted “bulls***” by claiming the plan was never to achieve “herd immunity” to Covid in the UK.
While the government insists herd immunity was never its “goal”, key figures clearly said in mid-March it was part of a plan to “delay” the peak, rather than suppress the virus.
Boris Johnson then U-turned and imposed a national lockdown on March 23, after projections said his “delay” plan would cost 250,000 to 500,000 lives.
The ex-aide has already tweeted documents showing things were so chaotic that bizarrely, at one point, a plan that could lead to 259,000 deaths was still being called the “optimal single peak strategy”.
Does he have more documents to show Downing Street is being economical with the truth?
Failure to plan
The ex-aide has said “awful decisions delayed everything” last March and any plan was “AWOL/disaster”.
He said Boris Johnson was “being screamed at” by March 14 that there was “no plan for lockdown and our current official plan will kill at least 250k & destroy the NHS.”
He tweeted: “If we’d had the right preparations + competent people in charge, we wd probably have avoided lockdown1, *definitely* no need for lockdowns 2&3.”
Expect Mr Cummings to expand on this – but also to face questions on why he, as one of the most powerful people in government, was apparently powerless to fix it.
Mr Cummings will also allege the PM was slow to react to the pandemic because he was on a ‘prolonged holiday’ with his partner Carrie Symonds in February last year.
There have also been reports the PM failed to chair the first five COBRA meetings in January and February 2020 as he was working on a biography of Shakespeare.
Asked if the Prime Minister had spent time on the book, his official spokesman said: “No, not that I’m aware of.”
Shielding and social care
The ex-aide tweeted last night that “one of the worst failings” was “the almost total absence of a serious plan for shielding/social care” last March.
He added: “As in general, there was widespread delusion we HAD a great plan. It turned out to barely exist.”
The former aide could shed light on crucial discussions – or the lack of them – in No10 about the most vulnerable, tens of thousands of whom died of Covid.
‘Kung Flu’ and getting injected live on TV
Boris Johnson offered to be injected with Covid on live TV to ‘show it’s nothing to be scared of’, according to reports.
Mr Cummings will claim the PM said: “I’m going to get Chris Whitty (Chief Medical Officer) to inject me with it live on national TV so everyone can see it’s nothing to be scared of.”
He will tell MPs that the PM made the remark repeatedly, according to the Daily Mail.
The PM is also said to have referred to the virus as ‘Kung-Flu’, which is likely to spark criticism.
Carrie and the Downing Street flat
Mystery surrounds how Boris Johnson funded a lavish revamp of the 11 Downing Street flat – where he lives – as the register of interests is still not published.
Mr Cummings may be able to shed some light. He has claimed he warned initial plans to have donors fund the project were “unethical, foolish (and) possibly illegal”.
Likewise he could shed light on his circle’s bitter power struggle with Carrie Symonds, who oversaw the revamp. While Mr Cummings has avoided commenting on the PM’s fiancee to date, an ally said he would “answer any questions honestly”.
After striding out of No10 with a box of papers last year, Mr Cummings has tweeted: ”I’ve got the only copy of a crucial historical document from Covid decision-making”
Will he attempt a stunt by bringing documents to his hearing and holding them up to the camera – as he has done before?
Will he reveal anything that wasn’t published before – and will he be allowed?
No10 have been unable to say if he signed the Official Secrets Act when he took the job. If he didn’t, that could give him more freedom to humiliate Boris Johnson.