Ex-adviser’s account of how PM mishandled the pandemic had more than a ring of truth
The words ‘sleetkit’ ‘slimeball’ and ‘sleazebag’ kept running through my mind as I watched Dominic Cummings go on the offensive against Boris Johnson and the “useless, hopeless duffers, morons and clowns” in Downing Street last week.
Not since Prince Andrew hung himself out to dry with Emily Maitlis has there been a TV performance so steeped in arrogance, pomposity and evasion, all of which poured out of Cummings faster than sunbather’s sweat.
During his hour-long interview with Laura Kuenssberg, the Prime Minister’s former chief adviser didn’t even have the decency to suppress the smirk that repeatedly slunk across his face as he was discussing serious subjects, such as coronavirus.
You really couldn’t have liked the man if he was buying you pints in the heatwave.
Believing a word he said was also difficult, especially when he started to talk about his restrictions-busting trip to Barnard Castle, attempting to muddy the waters by raising security matters that were allegedly worrying him at the time.
Even though Cummings came across a despicable slug, I believed a lot of what he said about Boris Johnson.
His attacks on the Prime Minister resonated with a lot of the criticism I have hurled Johnson’s way in the last while.
Cummings said Johnson had no idea how to lead. He added there was talk of getting rid of him only a few days after he took up office, but he didn’t explain why the coup didn’t happen.
He said Johnson’s only agenda appeared to be to buy more trains, buses and bikes and “build the world’s most stupid tunnel to Ireland”.
That brought a “well said, that man” from me and made the welcome for the tunnel from the DUP look foolish, especially as the party had also applauded Johnson’s support for an equally ludicrous bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland.
But then the DUP was similarly gullible when it believed Johnson’s claims that there would never be a border in the Irish Sea.
Mind you, wasn’t it rich to listen to Cummings talking about his doubts over Brexit? Especially since he was the man who masterminded the vote to leave the EU, based on nonsensical claims like the one on a bus about getting back £350m from Europe every week.
Cummings, of course, wouldn’t exactly be a credible witness, but his claims about how Johnson mishandled the pandemic will be still be worthy of examination if and when an inquiry is held into the Government’s response, a response that still looks disastrously inept in light of the recent easing of restrictions in England at a time when infection numbers are soaring.
Cummings clearly knows that there are other people in the rooms at Downing Street who will step up and back his claims about Johnson’s reluctance to lock down in the autumn, reflecting his failure to take the virus seriously, not to mention his remarks about “only the over-80s dying”.
This made it a little surprising that Johnson was keen to keep his weekly date with a woman who is well over 80, the Queen.
Cummings said he had talked his boss out of going to see the monarch and potentially causing her death.
It didn’t take a seasoned spin doctor to work out how Downing Street would respond to the interview.
A spokesperson said the Prime Minister had “taken the necessary action to protect lives and livelihoods, guided by the best scientific advice”.
They added that the Government had prevented the NHS “from being overwhelmed through three lockdowns”.
Of course, the undoubted success of the vaccination programme was trumpeted as if it all had been Johnson’s doing.
Taking the interview in the round, Cummings showed just how bad Johnson’s judgment is. By keeping the adviser on the payroll, the Prime Minister showed how lacking in awareness he really was.
The major question now, of course, concerns what Cummings will do next.
He wants Johnson to go, but he says he has no plans to leave the stage.
The big-I-am that he is has even hinted that he might start up his own party, which would use a very different style of Dom-ocracy.