Dominic Cummings set the stage today for an explosive appearance before MPs next week, claiming an obsession with secrecy at the heart of government had “contributed significantly to the disaster” of the Covid pandemic in the UK.
Boris Johnson’s former top aide also threatened to reveal a “crucial historical document” when he was briefed on how to deal with coronavirus # 10 at a joint health and science committee meeting on May 26.
He took to Twitter today in a typically drawn-out discussion of the pandemic, saying “openness to control would have exposed government errors weeks earlier than happened”.
He called on the government to learn from this in dealing with the vaccine rollout and the Indian variant by making “99 percent” of it public in order to further increase trust.
It came after British border policy was branded a “joke” last night, amid the question of whether Indian arrivals should have been cut in half earlier.
No10 is preparing for an offense by former Prime Minister Svengali as he answers questions from ministers next Wednesday.
Today he appeared to be poking the Prime Minister over a document from his time on Downing Street
He asked his 37,000 Twitter followers today if he should reveal it when it appears or keep it a secret by selling it to charity. He later made it clear that he would definitely pass the document on to the committee.
Boris Johnson’s former top aide threatened to reveal a “crucial historical document” when he was briefed on how to deal with coronavirus # 10 at a joint health and science committee meeting on May 26.
Mr Cumminsg appeared to goad the Prime Minister and asked his 37,000 Twitter followers today whether he should reveal the document or keep it secret by selling it to charity.
In comments greedily taken up by MPs on the committees for questioning, Mr Cummings said today: ‘One of the most fundamental and undeniable lessons from February to March is that secrecy was a major contributor to the disaster. The openness to control would have exposed government errors weeks earlier than before.
“Why do MPs now accept the lack of a public plan for Vaccine Task Force (VTF) variants, namely variants? Especially when I get rumors that the quiet entropy of Whitehall is slowly turning VTF back into a “normal” unit?
‘The best insurance for a variant that escapes current vaccines is public scrutiny of government plans. Hopefully this will show that it was taken seriously. If not, better learn now that the government screwed it up again than if “variant escapes”.
“I cannot think of a major element of the Covid response that dismissing the secrecy and opening it up would not have been improved.
‘This was symbolized by e.g. B. How COBR couldn’t be used: A restricted STRAP (secret information) environment couldn’t handle the scale / speed, another important lesson.
“After observing classified elements of Covid’s response, the government was able to publish vaccination schedules 99 percent risk-free. National security is almost completely irrelevant to the critical parts of the problem. With all the important parts published, some things could be withheld. ” of the plan. ‘
Seeing the classified elements of the Covid-19 response, Mr Cummings also suggested that vaccines could be developed faster if human challenge studies had started immediately, where volunteers were deliberately infected with the virus.
That could have meant getting bumped in the arms (in) summer, he said, but the Vaccine Task Force (VTF) was “constrained” in ways it shouldn’t be.
Human challenge trials didn’t take place until this year, but vaccine development was fast compared to working on puffs for other diseases.
Downing Street today denied his claim about the border. When asked which checks were crazy documents he might have taken with him when he left Downing Street in December, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said, “I will not go into individual cases. Obviously there are clear rules to be followed in these situations. ‘
When asked if Mr Johnson was concerned that Mr Cummings was suggesting he had the only copy of an important historical document on the decision-making in Covid, the spokesman added, “I have not spoken to the Prime Minister about it. He’s visiting this morning. I am not going to speculate on what information individuals may or may not provide to the committees. ‘
It came as Boris Johnson convened his cabinet for crunch talks today, amid grim claims that there is a chance the June 21 lockdown will ease as hoped.
The places in England where the Indian variant spreads fastest: Bolton, Blackburn, Sefton, Bedford, South Northamptonshire and Nottingham have the greatest climbs. Note: Very few cases of the virus are recorded in some areas such as Stevenage, Broxbourne and Oadby
The NHS figures show that vaccine intake in all over 40s, which is 83 percent across England, is below average in all but one (Sefton) of the hotspot areas of the Indian variant. While experts don’t agree that the at-risk older age groups are currently causing outbreaks, it could be cause for concern if the virus spreads to them
The prime minister and his senior ministers have been concerned about the rapidly spreading Indian variant of the coronavirus.
Ministers are preparing contingency plans under which local restrictions could be applied to tackle hotspots while the rest of the country relaxes or even the next phase of the roadmap is delayed.
Following the tiered system introduced last summer, people in the hardest-hit areas could be told to stay home and restaurants and shops had to close – with affected businesses receiving more grants to keep them afloat.
There are also growing doubts as to whether the lockdown can be lifted across England on June 21st. Just a week ago, Mr Johnson had been holding out the prospect of a full lift of legal restrictions and social distancing, but it now appears that a rules review is in place and is unlikely to be reported this month.
The fears stem from ministers looking for ways to control outbreaks. More than 2,300 cases of the Indian variant of Covid have now been identified in England. The numbers have quadrupled in just 10 days and now account for at least one in five infections.
Workers and local leaders have called for vaccines for younger people to be hurled in areas where the strain is coming – something that has so far been opposed.
A government source told ITV News that some of the easings that went into effect this week – including the “Rule of Six” that meet indoors and in bars and restaurants – may need to be reversed.
“It’s clear that some social distancing needs to be maintained, and not everything we planned for June 21st is likely to happen,” they said.
“But it is also possible that some of the easing we made today will have to be reversed.”
Any backtracking would be a major blow to Mr Johnson after vowing a “cautious but irreversible” exit from lockdown.
Tory ministers and MPs have warned the prime minister of a change of course, complaining that the curbs cannot be extended to protect people who refuse vaccines – believed to be effective against the Indian variant.
A cabinet minister warned that missing the June 21 milestone could become Johnson’s “Theresa May moment” – an indication of her failed Brexit deadline.
“This freedom date will be burned in people’s minds in the same way as their date for leaving the EU,” the source says. “When she missed it, she was done.”
The source said No. 10 “overreacted to panic warnings from the usual suspects” in parts of the healthcare sector.