During the inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, shocking revelations emerged regarding Boris Johnson’s alleged views on the crisis. According to diary entries by former chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, Johnson reportedly concurred with certain Tory MPs who believed that Covid was “nature’s way of dealing with old people.”
Dominic Cummings, a former adviser, provided scathing testimony, asserting that the government operated without a clear plan and was mired in “complete chaos.” He also presented offensive messages he had sent about cabinet ministers and high-ranking officials.
Lee Cain, the former communications director at No 10, described the pandemic as a challenge for Johnson, characterizing him as a “challenging character to work with” due to his tendency to frequently change his mind.
Sir Patrick Vallance’s diary entries unveiled his frustrations in dealing with Johnson. In August 2020, he noted that Johnson seemed fixated on the idea of older people accepting their fate while allowing the younger generation to carry on with their lives and the economy. In later entries from December 2020, Sir Patrick recorded Johnson’s agreement with the Conservative Party’s Chief Whip Mark Spencer, who suggested that only the elderly should be protected.
These revelations prompted strong reactions from various quarters. Brenda Doherty, a spokesperson for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK, expressed feeling deeply affected by Johnson’s messages, equating it to being “punched in the stomach.” She attributed a significant portion of the UK’s high Covid-19 death toll to Johnson’s actions.
Johnson’s spokesperson refrained from commenting on the evidence presented during the hearings, stating only that he is fully cooperating with the inquiry. Both Johnson and his successor, Rishi Sunak, are scheduled to provide their testimony later in the autumn.
During the inquiry, notes from Sir Patrick Vallance were presented, highlighting the challenges faced in dealing with Johnson’s decision-making process. Lee Cain emphasized Johnson’s tendency to vacillate in making decisions, which he believed contributed to delays in the crisis response.
Dominic Cummings’ testimony provided a candid and critical assessment of the government’s actions during the pandemic. He apologized for his use of explicit language, explaining that it was a reflection of the incompetence he perceived. Cummings pointed to a dysfunctional system within the Cabinet Office, asserting that there was a lack of planning when the crisis erupted. He cited a glaring absence of a comprehensive plan for shielding high-risk individuals from the virus.
Cummings also highlighted the neglect of vulnerable groups, such as ethnic minorities and domestic abuse victims, in considering the impact of potential lockdowns. The Labour party characterized the evidence presented at the inquiry as indicative of a government that is “chaotic, callous and dangerously out of its depth.”
The inquiry is set to continue with further testimony from key figures, including Helen MacNamara, the former deputy cabinet secretary.