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Cummings 1) “Absolutely f*cked”. Cummings says Johnson is unfit to be Prime Minister and caused thousands of unnecessary Covid deaths.

“Dominic Cummings has branded Boris Johnson unfit to be prime minister and accused him of being responsible for tens of thousands of needless deaths from coronavirus. The prime minister’s former senior adviser used a seven-hour session with MPs to savage Johnson and his government’s response to the pandemic, which he said fell “disastrously short” of what the public deserved. Cummings said that ministers were too slow to realise the danger of Covid and too willing to condemn thousands to death by refusing to challenge the assumption that the virus could not be stopped.” – The Times

  • Johnson believed initially that Covid was a scare story, and floated injecting himself with the virus on live TV. – Daily Telegraph
  • In the summer, he wanted to be the mayor of Jaws. “Now I’m going to be. Open everything up. Get on with it.” – Daily Mail
  • In the autumn, he was willing to see “bodies pile high” – The Sun
  • There was no proper border policy because the prime minister never wanted a proper border policy – The Guardian
  • Johnson was ‘distracted by his finance and divorce’ – FT
  • He veers about like a “shopping trolley…” – Daily Express
  • …and welcomes “chaos.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Cummings Reborn – as the champion of Parliament. He has given MPs more power, so leaving the inquiry with less.

Cummings 2) “Terrifyingly sh*t” He flays Ministers, the former Cabinet Secretary, senior civil servants, the Cabinet Office, advisers – and himself. We needed someone who could act “like a kind of dictator”

“The top aide, who left Government last year in a flurry of fury and briefings, said March last year was like an “out of control movie”… No10 was not on a war footing fast enough and “lots of key people were skiing in the middle of February”, he raged. Ministers didn’t realise the huge holes in their planning until it was too late, he claimed, and called the Cabinet office “terrifyingly s**t”… There was no plan for furlough or for shielding until the very last minute, he said, but dodged questions on whether ministers should face corporate manslaughter charges.” – The Sun

  • The then Cabinet Secretary wanted “chicken pox parties” to help Britain reach herd immunity – Daily Mail
  • McNamara’s early verdict: “we’re f*cked” – The Sun
  • The first lockdown came too late.- Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Starmer had a point on the Government’s amber travel list

Cummings 3) “Serial liar”. He targets Hancock – and says he “should have been fired for at least 15, 20 things”.

“Matt Hancock will today hit back at Dominic Cummings’ vicious attacks on his pandemic record including allegations he lied repeatedly, failed care home residents and should have been ‘sacked daily’ for ‘criminal, disgraceful behaviour’. The Health Secretary will give a statement in the Commons later after he and Boris Johnson’s were accused of ‘disastrous’ handling of the pandemic that had cost tens of thousands of lives. He will then face the media at a Downing Street press briefing as he tries to brazen out the storm… Mr Hancock insisted last night that he was focused on the vaccination drive, but a source called it a ‘character assassination’ that was ‘not backed by evidence’.” – Daily Mail

  • Health Secretary’s 10,000 corona tests a day pledge was “criminal, disgraceful behavior” – Daily Express
  • He “falsely claimed that patients were being tested for coronavirus before being discharged from hospital”… – The Times
  • …and sought to blame other for PPE failures – Daily Mail
  • Sedwill told Johnson that he had “lost confidence” in Hancock’s honesty and advised that he should be sacked.- The Guardian
  • The Health Secretary will defend himself today – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Video: Cummings – Hancock ‘should have been fired for at least 15, 20 things, including lying to everybody’

Cummings 4) But he praises Sunak, plus Vallance, Whitty, Bingham, Raab and some officials.

“Dominic Cummings today fuelled rumours he wants Rishi Sunak to become prime minister after claiming the Chancellor was ‘supportive’ of his drive to lock-down the country in March last year – while launching blistering attacks on Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock’s early handling of the pandemic. In his epic seven-hour evidence session with MPs, the ex-No10 adviser said Mr Sunak did not try to block the first shutdown despite ‘powerful voices’ in the Treasury warning against the dangers of restrictions on the economy. He rubbished reports in September that a circuit-breaker lockdown was delayed over fears Mr Sunak would resign, calling them ‘100 per cent’ false and telling the Commons committee: ‘The Chancellor never threatened to quit.'” – Daily Mail

  • He also says that Gove had little control of events – The Times

Cummings 5) He claims Symonds tried to appoint her friends to jobs in ways that were “completely unethical and clearly illegal”

“Carrie Symonds, the prime minister’s fiancée, has been accused of attempting to make an “illegal” intervention in the No 10 hiring process by appointing her friends to key roles. Dominic Cummings said during yesterday’s hearing that his resignation last autumn stemmed partly from Symonds’s interference. He alleged that she had acted illegally by trying to install friends and allies, including the government spokeswoman Allegra Stratton, to influential roles around Boris Johnson. A government source said that claims of illegal interference were wrong and Johnson had full responsibility for choosing his team.” – The Times

  • The Prime Minister’s fiancee was obsessed by claims that he and she were planning to rid Downing Street of Dilyn the dog – Daily Express

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Gimson’s Commons sketch: Johnson’s former adviser gives us politics as a disaster movie

Cummings 6) And he shifts his ground on Barnard Castle. He says that he told the truth…but not the whole truth.

“Dominic Cummings has admitted he did not tell the whole truth over his lockdown journeys to Durham, apologised for his handling of the “debacle”, and said he now wishes he had never gone to Barnard Castle. In evidence to MPs on Wednesday, the prime minister’s former chief aide said his account of the trips given in the No 10 rose garden a year ago had failed to disclose fully a plan to move his family out of their London home for security reasons, with Boris Johnson’s agreement. Cummings said he and Johnson had initially agreed to “stonewall” questions from the media when the Guardian and Daily Mirror revealed the Durham journeys. But after days of pressure, Johnson told him “this line won’t hold”, and he would have to give a press conference, Cummings told MPs.” – The Guardian

  • Inconsistencies in his story? – Daily Telegraph
  • He is a  “disingenuous little f**ker.” – Twitter
  • What will be in Cummings’ What’sApps and texts? – The Sun

Robert Shrimsley: Testimony exposes dangers of a lightweight leader and a dysfunctional system

“There are two ways to view what Westminster has enjoyed calling “Domaggedon”, the appearance of the prime minister’s estranged and vengeful former chief adviser at a parliamentary inquiry into the handling of the pandemic. Inside the political bubble that Cummings affects to despise and yet whose admiration he appears to covet, his words were viewed through their likely impact on Boris Johnson… But to focus on the immediate consequences for Johnson is to succumb to the political theatre and miss the fundamentals. For all the hours of testimony, Cummings’ key words were his very first, his admission that the government “failed” when the public needed it most, that it “fell disastrously short”. In his estimate this meant “tens of thousands” died unnecessarily.” – FT

  • Covid could yet destroy Johnson, but not in the way Cummings expects – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph

Sketches:

  • Bullet after vengeful bullet… but the Boris Boom will leave Cummings baying at the wind – Andrew Neil, Daily Mail
  • Lessons? Pah! We were here for revenge – Quentin Letts, The Times
  • A comprehensive bloodletting, complete with Jaws references – Madeline Grant, Daily Telegraph
  • With a glimpse of Hasselhoff chest rug, he let fly his fireballs – Henry Deedes, Daily Mail

Tory pressure mounts for cross-border carbon levy

“Boris Johnson is coming under pressure from senior Conservatives, including his own father, to introduce a UK carbon border tax to protect British industry from cheap competition from polluting countries. Rishi Sunak, chancellor, has ordered work to be done on the tax, a levy on carbon emissions attributed to imported goods that are not carbon-taxed at source… Liam Fox, former UK international trade secretary, will on Thursday urge Johnson to lead a global debate on carbon border taxation ahead of the UN COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow in November. “We must use the opportunity not simply to chair but to lead,” Fox will say in a speech to the Centre for Policy Studies, a centre-right think-tank.” – FT

Close ‘preposterous loophole’ that allows disgraced MP to avoid by-election, says Government

“A loophole which prevents constituents of disgraced MP Rob Roberts from forcing a by-election should be closed, the Government has said. The Delyn MP faces being suspended from the Commons for six weeks after breaching sexual misconduct rules by making repeated unwanted advances to a member of staff. He has been stripped of the Tory whip, but the way recall laws are drawn up means he cannot face the prospect of losing his seat. The sanction was proposed by the panel set up in 2020 to deal with cases raised under the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme. But the Recall of Parliament Act was passed in 2015, and only allows the prospect of a by-election for sanctions imposed on the recommendation of the Commons Committee on Standards.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prime Minister ‘rejects new sanctions for suspended Tory sex pest’ – The Times

Europe and Britain to slap ‘rogue state’ Belarus with new sanctions and shut off air space

“European nations nations followed in the footsteps of Britain last night and slapped rogue state Belarus with sanctions over its hijacking of a Ryanair flight. Furious EU leaders leaders announced they’ll ban the country’s airlines from flying over the continent’s airspace and from using any of its airports. They demanded the release of blogger Roman Protasevich – a fierce opponent of dictator Alexander Lukashenko – and his Russian girlfriend Sofia Sapega. The pair were hauled off a flight on Sunday after it was ordered under threat of being shot down to divert to Minsk airport over a bogus “bomb scare”.” – The Sun

>Today: Garvan Walshe’s column: Lukashenko’s air piracy. By way of western response, sanctions are only a start. Here’s what we need to do next.

News in Brief:

  • The families of the Covid dead say: listening to Cummings’ evidence was “painful and bleak” – Politics Home
  • Cummings rails against Hancock, Johnson, and the failed British state – John Ashmore, CapX
  • How will history judge Boris? – Ed West, UnHerd
  • The Covid lab leak theory is looking increasingly plausible – Matt Ridley, The Spectator