As the government puts the final touches to its social distancing review and Foreign Office ministers ponder the best response to the situation in Belarus, it’s a scheduled select committee appearance that is the subject of the most animated chatter in Westminster. Dominic Cummings is due to give evidence before the joint health and science committee inquiry into the government’s Covid response.
The session — which is due on Wednesday from 9.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Cummings has said he is happy to stay longer) — has been causing nerves in 10 Downing Street for some time. Given Boris Johnson’s relationship with his senior aide has dramatically worsened since Cummings left government, there have been concerns that the former adviser could make a series of damaging allegations about the PM’s handling of the Covid — as well as reveal numerous embarrassing details that Johnson and his ministers would rather be kept private.
Over the weekend, there have been a few hints of what is to come. Cummings made the news when he added a new tweet to his lengthy thread on Covid — stating that herd immunity was the government’s Covid strategy initially — and ministers ended up with a ‘bodged’ plan when they finally worked out it was a strategy that would cost hundreds of thousands of lives. Those claims were met with a terse response from Department of Health and Public Health England figures over the weekend.
The expectation is that Cummings’s evidence will focus largely on issues with transparency in the Covid response and why he believes deaths could have been avoided if different decisions had been made. No. 10 figures are also worried damaging details could emerge — with the Sunday Times reporting