Dominic Cummings: ‘Dept of Health was smoking ruin’
The former senior No 10 adviser – who has become a leading critic of Mr Johnson since leaving last year – is giving evidence at an inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic.
Ahead of his appearance before MPs, Dominic Cummings tweeted a picture of a whiteboard on which the government’s “plan B” for the first wave was sketched out. It asked the question: “Who do we not save?”
In a drawn-out thread of tweets posted over the last week, Mr Cummings hinted he may have “historic” documentary evidence to verify his claims.
Ministers fell ‘disastrously short’ claims Cummings
Boris Johnson’s former senior adviser Dominic Cummings has told MPs the government “disastrously short” of the standards that should be expected of it when coronavirus hit the UK.
He also apologised for his own role in the mistakes that were made in his opening remarks to MPs.
Adam Forrest26 May 2021 09:42
‘Who do we not save?’
Dominic Cummings has shared a picture which appears to show a whiteboard of the government’s Covid plan – with the words “who do we not save?” on it – ahead of his imminent appearance before MPs.
Adam Forrest26 May 2021 09:29
Eight of Cummings’ most bizarre and controversial moments
The timing of Dominic Cummings’ evidence session comes just over a year after he created widespread controversy by driving to his parents’ property in Durham during the first lockdown.
Mr Cummings, who had been a figure lurking in the background of government dealings and a key individual in the Vote Leave campaign, has always been a curious character in the world of modern British politics.
So with his tell-all testimony expected to contain a few fireworks about his ex-colleagues, Greg Evans takes a look back at some of Mr Cummings’ most memorable moments to date.
Sam Hancock26 May 2021 09:27
‘Ask Me Anything’: Political commentator to answer your Cummings questions live
After Dominic Cummings gives evidence to a joint select committee of MPs on Wednesday, our chief political commentator John Rentoul will answer your questions about what the PM’s former chief adviser said.
All you have to do is register to submit your question in the comments section on the below link. If you’re not already a member, click “sign up” in the comments box. Don’t worry if you can’t see your question – they will be hidden until John joins the conversation to answer them.
Join us live at 4pm as he tackles as many questions as he can.
Sam Hancock26 May 2021 09:17
Hancock runs away from reporter asking about Cummings
That’s one way to avoid a tough question. While out for a run, Matt Hancock stopped and spoke to reporters to encourage newly-eligible 30-year-olds to “go out and get a vaccine”. Covid jabs were extended to the age bracket from today.
But when asked about Dominic Cummings’ upcoming evidence session before MP’s, the health secretary quickly resumed his running duties and gave only a wave as a Sky News reporter shouted after him.
“Smile and run boys, smile and run”, seems to be today’s official advice to ministers.
Sam Hancock26 May 2021 09:05
Cummings tweets ‘sketches of government plans for first Covid wave’
Ahead of his appearance before MPs, Dominic Cummings tweeted a picture of a whiteboard on which the government’s “plan B” for the first wave of the virus was sketched out.
Mr Cummings noted the government’s original plan was for limited intervention with the hope of achieving herd immunity but that was abandoned when it became clear the scale of the death toll that would result.
The “first sketch” was drawn up in Boris Johnson’s study on the evening of Friday 13 March and shown to the PM the following day.
Plan A “breaks” the NHS and results in a daily death toll of more than 4,000, Mr Cummings said, while plan B was supposedly for “lockdown, suppress, crash programs” – the accelerated drive to boost tests, treatments and develop vaccines in order to escape both the first and second waves.
Sam Hancock26 May 2021 08:59
Truss admits ‘disagreements’ between her and LGBT+ panel
Stepping away from Cummingsgate for a moment. Minister for women and equalities Liz Truss has admitted there were “fundamental disagreements” with the government’s LGBT+ panel before the decision was taken to disband the group last month.
She told MPs there was a “difference of opinion” on the issue of the Gender Recognition Act, with members of the panel supporting self-identification for gender recognition.
It comes after former members of the panel, which was disbanded in April, criticised ministers in the equality office of creating a “hostile environment” for the minority in Britain.
Our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn has more:
Sam Hancock26 May 2021 08:55
Shapps admits Cummings breached Covid guidelines with trip to County Durham
Transport secretary Grant Shapps, who previously defended his colleague Dominic Cummings after his infamous trip to County Durham during lockdown last year, appears to have U-turned on that support. He now admits the former aide undermined the government’s public health message.
“I thought he was right at the time to stand by his family, to go into effective quarantine, and that’s what he did,” Mr Shapps told the BBC this morning. “I accept it was a moment which actually in the public’s mind undermined the wider messages and I accept that.
He added: “I thought he was doing what he thought was right by his family at the time.”
Mr Shapps didn’t stop there either, dismissing the focus today on Mr Cummings as “Westminster bubble stuff” and saying: “I do find this obsession about one single adviser a bit odd”.
It seems important to note the significance of Mr Shapps’ decision to make this claim today, 45 minutes before Mr Cummings is due to give evidence about the government’s handling of Covid.
Sam Hancock26 May 2021 08:46
Inside Politics newsletter: No 10 awaits ‘Dom bombs’ as Cummings set to spill secrets
Get the latest from our very own Adam Forrest who, in today’s edition of The Independent’s daily political newsletter, writes about the moment we are all waiting for.
Sam Hancock26 May 2021 08:32
Minister denies claims Johnson called Covid ‘kung flu’
The mudslinging begins. Grant Shapps has denied claims Boris Johnson called Covid-19 “kung flu”, and considered being injected with coronavirus live on air in an attempt to demonstrate it was nothing to be scared of.
It comes after reports in The Daily Mail suggested Dominic Cummings will make those accusations when he appears before MPs within the next hour. On LBC Radio, Mr Shapps was asked if he had ever heard the PM use the term “kung flu”.
“Never, no,” the transport secretary said. Asked if he had heard the PM say he wanted to be infected live on TV, Mr Shapps said: “No, never, again no.”
Mr Shapps added: “It’s a bit of a circus from someone who was there at the time and had the facility and the ability to influence a lot of these decisions, of course.”
Sam Hancock26 May 2021 08:27